Chronic pelvic pain is a common problem for female patients and is defined as pain that has been present for 6 months or more. Chronic pelvic pain with associated ovarian vein varicosities is termed pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS) and is an important but under-diagnosed condition. The aetiology of pelvic varicosities is reflux of blood in the ovarian veins due to the absence of functioning valves, resulting in retrograde blood flow and eventual venous dilatation. The cardinal presenting symptom of PCS is pelvic pain, usually described as a dull ache, without evidence of inflammatory disease. Clinical signs may include vulval varicosities extending on to the medial thigh and long saphenous territory as well as tenderness on deep palpation at the ovarian point; however, such signs are not always present. Non-invasive imaging (ultrasound, CT and magnetic resonance venography) plays a central role in establishing the diagnosis, excluding alternative causes of pelvic pain and providing a road map for novel minimally invasive treatment options that are now available. Day-case percutaneous-directed venous embolisation is now accepted as a valuable treatment option for PCS with promising results from early clinical trials and is fast becoming the first-line treatment option for this condition. This paper aims to raise awareness of PCS among clinicians and reviews the pathogenesis, imaging assessment and minimally invasive treatment options that are now available.
- Pelvic congestion
- genitourinary medicine
- interventional radiology
- vascular medicine
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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