Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

What is pelvic congestion syndrome?

Some women experience pain and heaviness in the lower abdomen or pelvis related to problems with the veins draining the blood from the pelvis.  This is called pelvic congestion syndrome. There are several alternative causes of pelvic pain including problems with the bladder, reproductive organs such as the uterus and ovaries and problems with the gut.  Determining which of these causes is most relevant in a woman requires expert assessment and investigation.

Which veins are involved in pelvic congestion syndrome?

In women with pelvic congestion syndrome the problem can relate to the veins draining blood from the ovaries which is particularly common in the left ovarian veins.  Instead of the blood flowing up towards the heart it flows back down into the pelvis and causes the pressure to rise.  This is experienced as pain and heaviness in some women.  It can be associated with varicose veins deep in the pelvis. However, not all women with varicose veins in their pelvis have pelvic congestion syndrome.

How do I know if I have pelvic congestion syndrome?

Ultrasound scanning by a specialist vascular sonographer can determine whether a woman has a diseased refluxing ovarian vein causing pelvic varicose veins and potentially pelvic congestion syndrome.  Women with pelvic pain and potentially with pelvic congestion syndrome will also need to be assessed by a gynaecologist.  They may require other tests such as a pelvic ultrasound, CT scanning and laparoscopy to directly examine the pelvis.  Your gynaecologist will advise you in relation to the need for this further testing.

How is pelvic congestion syndrome treated?

After excluding other causes of pelvic pain Dr Freeman is experienced in treating patients ovarian vein reflux to reduce the pressure in the pelvis.  A minimally invasive procedure called coil embolization is used to stop the blood refluxing back down into the pelvis enabling patients to get relief from their pain.  Immediately after the procedure the pain may become be worse, this normally settles over a period of days.  The procedure is done under local anaesthetic through the groin and patients go home on the same day.

Sydney Vascular Ultrasound provides specialised vascular and venous diagnostic imaging in Burwood, Bankstown and Liverpool.