What is Ovarian Vein Embolization?
Ovarian vein embolization is a minimally-invasive treatment for pelvic congestion syndrome, which is when a person experiences pain due to enlarged or varicose veins in the lower abdomen and pelvis area. In this procedure, the diseased/varicose veins are closed off so they will no longer fill with blood. With the lack of blood going through these veins, pain will subside. The embolization procedure is known to be highly effective at controlling bleeding.
During the procedure, an ultrasound, CT, or MRI may be conducted. Before he begins the embolization, a doctor will insert a catheter up the femoral vein and into the varicose/diseased vein or veins. The incision for the catheter is tiny, like a small nick in the skin. The doctor will use an x-ray image to guide the catheter to the vein. Several x-rays are taken to location the site of the problem. The catheter will release a synthetic material or medication (an embolic agent), which clot the flood and seal off the problem vein or veins. There are two types of embolic agents: Temporary embolic agents, which block blood vessels for a period that will allow the body to heal itself; and permanent embolic agents, which block blood vessels and cause scar tissue to form in the vessel. Additional pictures are taken to make sure the embolic agent is positioned correctly.
The procedure can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the complexity of the pelvis congestion syndrome. After the procedure is done, the catheter is removed and a bandage will cover the incision site. Patients should expect to be in bed 6 to 8 hours after the embolization.
Patients do experience some pain after embolization, but this can be managed through oral or IV medication. Patients can expect to stay in the hospital for 24 hours, but if the pain is extreme, they will be in the hospital for longer. Within a week, patients can resume their normal, daily routines and activities.
Women who undergo embolization for this syndrome has success rates of 85 percent or higher. Since it is a minimally-invasive procedure, there are less complications and blood loss is less. As for risks, some patients are allergic to the material injected, there’s a risk of infection (even with antibiotics) there’s a chance the embolic agent can be put in the wrong place and deprive the tissue of oxygen.
It may take up to 24 hours to know if bleeding from the procedure has stopped. It can take up to three months after the procedure before knowing whether symptoms have cleared up or disappeared. Patients usually have a follow-up appointment after the embolization.