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July 18, 2019  
UTERINE NEWS: Feature Story

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  • Chronic Pelvic Pain and Varicose Veins

    Chronic Pelvic Pain and Varicose Veins – What’s the Connection

    June 06, 2005

    By: Jean Johnson for Uterus1

    For the estimated one-third of women who will experience chronic pelvic pain during their lives, the good news is that there are effective treatment methods.
    Take Action
    What is causing your pelvic pain? Conditions include:


    Interstitial cystitis


    Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

    Abdominal scarring


    Chronic fatigue syndrome

    Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) condition

    Pelvic congestion syndrome

    For more information and support, visit the
    International Pelvic Pain Society

    News like this increases the chance of the public becoming more acquainted with the field of Interventional Radiology – at least the female half of the population.

    In a nutshell, IR is the area of medicine where physicians expert on the circulation system thread catheters through the body and into diseased or malfunctioning areas via guided imaging. Once at the site of interest, they then apply various chemical and mechanical aids to cure or control situations. The Society of Interventional Radiology had its 30th annual scientific meeting earlier this year where results of the twin studies aimed at chronic pelvic pain were reported.

    According to one paper presented at the 2005 New Orleans gathering of some 5,000 physicians, of “160 female patients evaluated for lower extremity venous reflux (varicose veins), 16 percent also presented with symptoms and findings of pelvic congestion syndrome – a cause of chronic pelvic pain.” Study author, interventional radiologist at the Intermountain Vein Center in Provo, Utah, Carl M. Black, M.D., explained, “understanding that women with varicose veins in their legs might be at risk for pelvic congestion syndrome will help us treat them more effectively and comprehensively.”

    Also, apparently appreciating that much of the public is in the dark when it comes to IR, Black also put in a pitch for his field. “As vascular experts, interventional radiologists can utilize imaging skills to both diagnose and treat circulatory problems using minimally-invasive techniques. We can improve circulation in their legs, remove unsightly varicose veins, and reduce chronic pelvic pain – all without major surgery, without general anesthesia, and without a hospital stay.”

    Varicose veins can also appear internally in association with the ovaries and pelvic area generally. This condition is termed pelvic congestion and was the subject of the second long-term IR study of 131 women with chronic pelvic pain. Said lead investigator, interventional radiologist from Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Kevin Kim, M.D. “Many women are needlessly suffering and often told their pain is all in their head. Women need to know that embolization is an effective treatment for reducing pelvic pain – in our study 85 percent of the women had significant long-term symptom improvement, without significant change to ovarian function.”

    Pelvic congestion syndrome is most common in women under 45 years of age who have not been pregnant. Pain is usually felt in the lower abdomen and lower back. IR physicians examine patients in which they suspect problems on the incline, since when prone the pressure on ovarian veins is relieved and thus diagnosis is often missed.

    That the field is now taking seriously what physicians once dismissed as psychosomatic symptoms is one mark in the favor of IR ranks. More, that practitioners are connecting the dots and pushing medicine’s understanding of the way female bodies function is a second. In this painstaking, scrupulous way, interventional radiologists are slowly but surely making a name for themselves, not to mention winning converts from the female half of the population.

    Last updated: 06-Jun-05


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