Joanne was referred to the Vein Institute by her gynecologist, who she visited after she felt pain in her pelvic area over several months. The mother of two reported that the pain got worse before her period, and her doctor thought the throbbing could be from a form of varicose veins. An ultrasound performed in our office confirmed the diagnosis.
The ovarian vein, which sends blood from the ovaries back to the heart, can become varicose just like any other vein, especially after two or more pregnancies. During menstruation, increased blood flow in that region of the body expands the blood vessels and if they are varicose, they will ache. The condition is called pelvic congestion syndrome.
According to the Society of Interventional Radiology, up to 15 percent of women have varicose veins in the pelvis, although not all experience symptoms. Joanne learned that just as with other types of varicose veins, a diseased ovarian vein won’t get better on its own.
Sometimes birth control pills are prescribed in an attempt to control the pain but Joanne and her doctors agreed that a procedure called embolization would be the best approach, partly because it offered a permanent solution. Because the vein is deep in the body, treatment is more involved than with most varicose vein solutions.
During the procedure, a thin catheter was inserted into Joanne’s femoral vein, in her groin, and our doctor guided it to the diseased vein with the help of ultrasound. Through the catheter, a tiny coil was inserted into the ovarian vein, which sealed it off. The treatment was done in a hospital but Joanne didn’t stay overnight and her pelvic pain ended immediately. She was back at work two days later.
You should visit your doctor any time you feel pain in your pelvis. If the cause is diagnosed as pelvic congestion syndrome, the treatment will be more involved than for regular varicose vein procedures, but embolization is safe and long-lasting, just like the treatment of veins in your legs.