Pelvic congestion syndrome, also called pelvic venous insufficiency, is a form of varicose veins in the pelvic region. Enlarged pelvic veins cause pelvic vein congestion.  This happens when the pelvic veins that supply blood to the uterus or ovaries dilate, or widen, causing blood to flow backward and pool in the veins. As a result, chronic pelvic pain may develop, making it difficult to walk and stand.

This condition often develops after pregnancy and can significantly affect your quality of life.While the condition is thought to be affected by hormone fluctuations related to pregnancy, the disorder can occur in women who have never had children. It is commonly treated using a process known as vein embolization.

Why would I need pelvic congestion syndrome imaging?

For women enduring severe pelvic discomfort, pelvic congestion syndrome imaging and embolization can provide significant relief.

The most effective imaging technology for pelvic congestion syndrome is venogram.

While pelvic congestion syndrome has several hallmarks, including enlarged veins on the thighs and buttocks and persistent pelvic pain, the disorder can be challenging to diagnose definitively. If you struggle with pelvic pain, your medical team must rule out numerous conditions, such as urinary, gastrointestinal, and musculoskeletal disorders. Sometimes, mental health issues contribute to the symptoms.

In addition to pelvic imaging, standard diagnostic tests for pelvic vein congestion include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Gynecological exam
  • Diagnostic laparoscopy

Once pelvic congestion syndrome has been conclusively diagnosed, it can be treated using a process called pelvic vein embolization. This procedure blocks the flow of blood through the enlarged veins permanently.

What is pelvic vein embolization?

Pelvic vein embolization is an image-guided, minimally invasive procedure where the clinician uses an embolic agent – a gelatin sponge – to fill the smaller enlarged veins, inhibiting blood flow and significantly easing discomfort.

The procedure is performed by a physician specializing in interventional radiology and is generally an outpatient procedure. While some patients are sedated during the intervention, others might remain awake.

How do I prepare for pelvic vein embolization?

It is usually recommended that patients avoid eating or drinking anything for approximately 8 hours before the procedure. However, if you take certain medications that must be administered with food, discuss options with your doctor.

Be sure to tell your physician about any medications or supplements you take and alert your medical team to any allergies. Because diagnostic imaging generally involves X-ray screening, it’s important to tell your medical team if you think you might be pregnant so alternative imaging solutions can be used.

Refrain from taking blood thinners, aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs).

Your kidney function will be evaluated before the intervention.

How long does pelvic vein embolization take?

It is difficult to approximate the duration of the procedure since every case involves different levels of complexity. Embolization can be as long as several hours or as short as 45 minutes.

Does pelvic vein embolization have any risks?

There is a minor risk of infection at the incision site, but following your doctor’s aftercare instructions will significantly reduce the chance you’ll experience any complications. Please discuss the potential risks with your doctor.

Please get in touch with our helpful representatives today if you would like to schedule a consultation for pelvic vein congestion syndrome.