CHICAGO – Endovascular coiling should be offered to women with pelvic congestion syndrome as an effective treatment.
"The technical success rate is high, pain scores were significantly improved, and most importantly, the patient satisfaction with resolution of their symptoms is very high," Dr. Axel Thors said at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Vascular Surgical Society*.
He reported on a 4-year review involving 15 women with pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS) who underwent endovenous coil embolization (n = 14) or stenting of the iliac vein (n = 1).
The diagnosis of PCS was made clinically by the presence of chronic pelvic pain for 6 months or more, sensations of pelvic fullness, dyspareunia, or perineal varicosities. There was no evidence of nutcracker syndrome or perirenal varicosities. Other pathologies had been previously ruled out.
"By the time these women got to us, we were probably the last provider they had seen and they had all undergone extensive evaluation for their pelvic pain, all the way from their primary providers to the ob.gyns.," said Dr. Thors of Ohio State University, Columbus.
Their average age was 36 years. Fourteen patients had a previous pregnancy, with an average parity of two.
Twelve patients presented with symptomatic vulvar varices and three with imaging or laproscopic findings of tubo-ovarian varices. All had complaints of chronic pelvic pain.
"Lower extremity venous insufficiency was closely associated with the incidence [of PCS], as was chronic dyspareunia," Dr. Thors said.
Gonadal vein venograms were performed during normal breath and the Valsalva maneuver. Embolization was performed if there was gonadal vein incompetence, congestion of the ovarian venous plexus, uterine venous congestion, cross-pelvic congestion, or marked enlargement of gonadal veins (minimum 6 mm). The average venality size was 7.3 mm.
In all, 13 gonadal veins were embolized with an average of three coils, ranging in size from 6 mm to 12 mm, Dr. Thors said.
Four gonadal veins were occluded using an Amplatzer plug (range 12-18 mm). One iliac vein was stented with a 16 mm by 60 mm stent.
Lower-extremity venous insufficiency was treated with ablation and subsequently followed clinically, he said.
Pain scores on a 10-point visual analog scale declined significantly from baseline for eight evaluable patients for pelvic pain (9.3 vs. 1.8), dyspareunia (8.875 vs. 1.5), painful vulvar varices (9.2 vs. 1.2), and lower extremity venous insufficiency (7 vs. 1), he said.
Two patients had recurrence, and their baseline pain score of 1.2 increased to 4.0 after a mean of 21 months.
All eight patients reported that they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their procedure.
"Patients with chronic pelvic pain, vulvar varices, multiparity, and lower extremity venous insufficiency should be offered endovascular evaluation and treatment," Dr. Thors concluded.
Audience members said that the study represents an important concept in the management of these patients. It is a validation of a very old treatment that sometimes is not offered because of a lack of knowledge or perceived lack of data. A 2012 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality review estimated that outpatient management of chronic pelvic pain cost $1.2 billion annually. The AHRQ review of 36 studies concluded that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of surgical approaches for chronic pelvic pain.
Dr. Thors and his coauthors reported having no financial disclosures.
*CORRECTION, 10/29/2013: An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the annual meeting of the Midwestern Vascular Surgical Society.