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What is Ovarian Vein Embolization?

Posted on August 16, 2023

Ovarian vein embolization is a minimally invasive treatment option for Pelvic Venous Congestion Syndrome (PVCS, also called PCS, or pelvic congestion syndrome.) But what causes PVCS, and how can ovarian vein embolization relieve this condition? Keep reading to find out!

What is PVCS? facts on PVCS and Ovarian Embolization

When you have Pelvic Venous Congestion Syndrome, it means that varicose veins have developed in your pelvic and/or your reproductive organs. Some symptoms mimic those of fibroids, including pelvic pain, vaginal discharge and bleeding. But other symptoms, such as swelling of the vulva, hemorrhoids and fatigue are unique to PCS, and this can help you reach a faster diagnosis.

Like fibroids, it's not always clear why some women develop this condition and others don't. But, for now, we do know certain factors that increase your risk for PCS. And that includes having multiple pregnancies; having May-Thurner Syndrome; or having Nutcracker Syndrome.

Diagnosing PCS

Most women receive a diagnosis of Pelvic Venous Congestion Syndrome after ruling out other conditions. To confirm the cause of your symptoms, we'll need to detect varicose veins in your pelvis. And we can do that with diagnostic imaging.

Ovarian Embolization and Other Treatment Options

In the past, many women received unnecessary hysterectomies to relieve their symptoms. But that happened because people didn't have a great understanding of PCS. Today, we know that surgical removal of your uterus is not your only option. Instead, you can choose Ovarian Embolization, a minimally invasive treatment that can relieve your PCVS symptoms without the need for surgery.

What can you expect with this procedure? We can insert a vascular sheath through a small incision in your leg or neck. Next, we'll guide a catheter to your left ovarian vein. There, we can deposit embolic material that blocks the varicose veins of the ovaries. Afterward, up to 90% of women enjoy PVCS relief, with ovarian embolization success rates varying between studies.

Now, this procedure is not for everyone. Certain factors, including a diagnosis of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease; an allergy to contrast dye; clotting disorders; or renal insufficiency can rule you out as a candidate for this procedure. If that is the case, you can try to treat this condition with hormonal therapy or surgical vein removal. If, however, you are a candidate for embolization, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our Houston area interventional radiologists. Together, we'll determine if ovarian embolization is the best option for treating your Pelvic Venous Congestion Syndrome.

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