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One of the causes of lower abdominal pain that isn't always easy to diagnose is pelvic congestion syndrome, a painful condition where veins in your pelvis swell with blood. Allison Burkett, MD, FACS, of Middle Georgia Vascular Surgery Center & Vein Solutions in Warner Robins, Georgia, is an expert in identifying and treating pelvic congestion syndrome. If you have symptoms of this condition, call Dr. Burkett's office to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online today.
Pelvic congestion syndrome is a condition that can cause chronic or recurrent pelvic pain and thigh pain. It most commonly affects women ages 20-50. The source of the pain is veins in your pelvis that become swollen with blood.
Your pelvic veins can be narrowed by scarring or pressure from other structures in your abdomen/pelvic. This causes backward flow and pressure to build up in your pelvis and legs.
This condition is known as chronic venous insufficiency or venous reflux and is the same problem that leads to varicose veins in your legs.
Anyone can get pelvic congestion syndrome, but certain factors increase your risk. A main one is a hormone imbalance, as high estrogen levels make your veins widen, weakening the veins.
Fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause can cause an estrogen imbalance, or you could have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). If you develop PCOS, you might have cysts on your ovaries that affect hormone production and cause imbalances.
Pelvic congestion syndrome risk also rises if you've had more than one pregnancy, chronic low back problems, prior abdominal surgeries, and if you already have varicose veins in your legs.
It often takes a while to diagnose pelvic congestion syndrome in primary care, as the swollen veins aren't usually noticeable when you lie down for a pelvic exam.
Unless your provider looks for the veins when you're standing, they might not see them. Patients sometimes endure chronic pelvic pain for long periods before seeing a vascular expert like Dr. Burkett and getting a pelvic congestion syndrome diagnosis.
The diagnostic technologies she might use to confirm you have pelvic congestion syndrome include pelvic ultrasound, Cat scans, MRI scans, and pelvic venography.
Dr. Burkett may be able to resolve your pelvic congestion syndrome pain with a minimally invasive procedure(s).
Dr. Burkett inserts a thin tube or catheter into a small incision in your groin that gives her access to the affected veins. Your pelvic venous disease may be treated by stenting narrowed veins or closing off weak varicose veins of the pelvis.
In response to the closure of diseased veins, your body reroutes blood through the remaining veins, which improves your circulation and eliminates pelvic pain. Over time, your body absorbs the remains of the treated veins.
If you have pelvic congestion syndrome symptoms, you might benefit from seeing a vascular specialist like Dr. Burkett. Call Middle Georgia Vascular Surgery Center & Vein Solutions to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online today.