Diseases and conditions

Chronic pelvic pain (pelvic congestion syndrome)

What is chronic pelvic pain?

Chronic pelvic pain occurs below the belly button in the pelvis. A number of conditions can cause chronic pelvic pain, including enlarged varicose veins in the ovaries and pelvis. Veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing toward your heart. If the valves are weak or damaged, blood can pool in your veins, which causes them to swell. When this happens near the pelvis, it is called pelvic congestion syndrome.

Pelvic congestion syndrome usually affects women who have previously been pregnant, because the ovarian and pelvic veins had widened to accommodate the increased blood flow from the uterus during pregnancy. After the pregnancy, some of these veins remain enlarged and fail to return to their previous size, causing them to weaken and allowing blood to pool.

Treatment

Interventional radiologists are board-certified physicians who deliver minimally invasive treatments with less risk, less pain and less recovery time than traditional surgery to treatment pelvic congestion syndrome.

Ovarian vein embolization

Ovarian vein embolization is a same-day treatment, which takes place in an interventional radiology suite. The interventional radiologist gains access through a large vein in the groin, called the femoral vein, by using a small catheter, which is a flexible tube like a spaghetti noodle. The catheter is moved through the vein to the enlarged pelvic veins, allowing the introduction of embolic agents, which are medications that cause the vein to seal off and relieve the painful pressure.

This treatment is less expensive than surgery and much less invasive.

A number of diagnostic tests can be performed through minimally invasive methods, to determine whether your chronic pelvic pain is a result of pelvic varicose veins. These tests include:

  • Pelvic and Transvaginal Ultrasound
  • Pelvic Venogram
  • Computed Tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

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