Pelvic vein embolization is the most common and effective method of treatment for pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS). PCS affects an estimated 1 in 7 women with it accounting for around 14% of all cases of chronic pelvic pain in women. 

The condition is best described as varicose veins in the pelvis, which means one of the three major veins involved in circulation of the pelvis has malfunctioned and is allowing blood to flow backward.  

What is Pelvic Vein Embolization?

Pelvic vein embolization is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure. It is usually performed in an outpatient setting and involves the use of numbing cream and/or local anesthetic.

Although not the only treatment option, embolization is usually the indicated treatment when PCS is diagnosed. The procedure is used to stop the abnormal blood flow causing the painful symptoms.

During the procedure, a thin catheter, about the size of a strand of spaghetti, is guided to the affected vein. To seal the faulty, enlarged vein and relieve the pressure, tiny coils are inserted with a sclerosing agent (the same type of material used to close varicose veins).

Pelvic vein embolization has shown a high rate of success in symptom improvement (85-95%) and represents a safe and efficient treatment.

Why a Pelvic Vein Embolization May Be Recommended

Pelvic congestion syndrome can be difficult to diagnose as chronic pelvic pain can be caused by a number of conditions including those affecting the urinary system, gastrointestinal system and reproductive system. For this reason, your healthcare provider may perform several tests to rule other causes of pelvic pain.

Indications of PCS may include: 

  • Pelvic pain or aching around the pelvis and lower abdomen
  • Pelvic pain that increases during menstruation
  • Pelvic pain that worsens after standing, walking, or having sex
  • Dragging sensation or pain the pelvis
  • Feeling of fullness in the legs
  • Worsening of stress incontinence

Depending on the patient‘s symptoms, treatment can be medical therapy, surgical treatment or embolization. Embolization is often considered more effective than other techniques for treating PCS. It is also less invasive and has a faster recovery than other procedures.

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