Pelvic congestion syndrome is a condition that results from retrograde flow through incompetent valves in ovarian veins. It is one of commonly missed and potentially treatable cause of chronic abdominal or pelvic pain.
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It tends to be more common in multiparous, premenopausal women who typically present with chronic pelvic pain for more than 6 months 1. The overall population prevalence may approach ~10%.
Patients often have noncyclical chronic (typically dull and aching) pelvic pain. In certain cases there may be thigh or vulvar varices. It is often considered a diagnosis of exclusion.
Pelvic congestion syndrome is considered the female equivalent to a testicular varicocele. It is caused by:
- venous obstruction: such as retroaortic left renal vein
- compression of left renal vein by SMA also known as nutcracker phenomenon, or right iliac vein compression
- incompetent valves in ovarian vein
The diagnosis of pelvic congestion syndrome is established by the demonstration of multiple dilated, tortuous parauterine veins with a width >4 mm or an ovarian vein diameter greater than 5-6 mm 4.
- ovarian vein >5-6 mm (positive predictive value of 71-83%)
- may show multiple dilated veins in the adnexae with reversed venous flow on colour Doppler, especially after Valsalva maneuver
- the venous calibres may increase on real time during Valsalva
- promenent myometrial veins may also be present 1-8.
Contrast enhanced CT typically shows dilated pelvic and ovarian veins. The supine position during scanning may underestimate the size of venous dilatation.
May show dilated veins. Time of flight (TOF) imaging can be performed where contrast is not required.
- T1: seen as flow voids
- T2: mostly high signal but but can vary dependent on velocities from low signal to iso signal
- GE: high signal
Treatment and prognosis
Treatment options include coil embolisation of the gonadal vein: ovarian vein embolisation. Surgical (e.g. laparoscopic) ligation of the ovarian vein may also be an option in selected cases. The presence of multiple collaterals between iliac and ovarian venous plexuses may cause recurrence of symptoms.
Ultrasound - gynaecology
- ultrasound (introduction)
- acute pelvic pain
- chronic pelvic pain
- Mullerian duct anomalies
- ovarian follicle
- ovarian torsion
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- ovarian cysts and masses
- ovarian cyst
- corpus luteum
- haemorrhagic ovarian cyst
- ruptured ovarian cyst
- ovarian epithelial tumours
- granulosa cell tumours of the ovary
- paraovarian cyst
- polycystic ovaries
- ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
- post-hysterectomy ovary
- fallopian tube
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- 8. Sharma K, Bora MK, Varghese J et-al. Role of trans vaginal ultrasound and Doppler in diagnosis of pelvic congestion syndrome. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8 (7): OD05-7. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/8106.4570 - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation