Departmental News


Approximately one-third of all women will experience chronic pelvic pain in their lifetime. Many of these women are told the problem is "all in their head" and spend many years trying to get an answer to why they have this chronic pelvic pain. Recent research has shown that the pain may be due to hard-to-detect varicose veins in the pelvis.

Pelvic venous incompetence (PVI) is similar to varicose veins in the legs. In both cases, the valves in the veins that help return blood to the heart against gravity become weakened and don't close properly. This allows blood to flow backwards and pool in the vein causing pressure and bulging veins.

In the pelvis, varicose veins can cause pain and affect the uterus, ovaries, and vulva. Up to 16% of women, generally between the ages of 20 and 50, have varicose veins in the pelvis, although not all experience symptoms.

PVI should be suspected when a woman reports pelvic pain in the upright position, during or after intercourse, or associated with other varicosities in the thigh, buttocks, perineum, vulva, or vagina. Pain is generally relieved in a supine position. The symptoms of pelvic venous incompetence may increase in the postpartum interval.

Treatment of PVI includes a non-surgical procedure called embolization. This minimally invasive procedure involves placement of coils and sclerosant into the damaged ovarian varices and pelvic varices that lead to occlusion of these veins. Once these veins are removed from the circulation, there is no further pooling of blood into the pelvis, and the pain goes away with clinical improvement.

The Stony Brook Vein Center provides this new treatment option that offers an alternative to surgery in patients who have PVI and who do not respond to pharmacological and/or psychotherapeutic treatment.

For consultations/appointments with our vascular specialists, please call 631-444-4666.

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