Ovarian vein embolization is a safe, effective, and minimally invasive treatment for pelvic congestion syndrome. The procedure is less expensive and less invasive than surgery. Pelvic congestion syndrome is similar to varicose veins in the legs. It affects the uterus, ovaries, and vulva causing pain. Not all women with varicose veins in the pelvis experience symptoms.

Pelvic congestion syndrome is often misdiagnosed since women lie down for a pelvic exam, which relieves pressure on the ovarian veins. The risk for developing pelvic congestion syndrome increases for women with two or more pregnancies, polycystic ovaries, or hormonal problems.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • A dull and/or aching pain in the abdomen and lower back
  • The pain increases
    • When standing (worse at the end of the day)
    • Following intercourse
    • During your period
    • During pregnancy
  • Usual vaginal discharge
  • Varicose veins on vulva, buttocks, or thighs
  • Need to urinate frequently
  • Abnormal periods

Diagnosis and Assessment

To diagnose pelvic congestion syndrome, a pelvic exam is necessary to rule out other conditions or concerns. Then, using imaging techniques, an interventional radiologist verifies that the pelvic varicose veins are the cause of the chronic pain. There are four minimally-invasive techniques used:

  • Pelvic venography
  • MRI
  • Pelvic ultrasound
  • Transvaginal ultrasound

Treatment Options

Once the diagnosis is made, if the patient is symptomatic, an embolization is usually performed.

Be sure to tell the doctor about any:

  • Medications, including herbal or over the counter
  • Allergies to iodine or contrast dye
  • Recent illnesses
  • Medical conditions
  • Pregnancy

Ovarian vein embolization is performed as an outpatient procedure. After a mild sedative and a local anesthetic, the interventional radiologist uses imaging for guidance and inserts a catheter into the femoral vein in the groin. Next, they guide the catheter to the affected vein and insert a sclerosing agent that seals the vein and relieves the pressure. Once the procedure is complete, you can return home later the same day.

Recovery

After an ovarian vein embolization procedure, patients generally have pelvic cramping that improves within days, and many women return to their normal routines in a couple of weeks.