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Diagnosis / May Thurner Syndrome

May-Thurner syndrome (MTS) is caused when the left iliac vein is compressed by the right iliac artery, which increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the left extremity. DVT is a blood clot that may partially or completely block blood flow through the vein.

What Causes May-Thurner Syndrome?

The reason May-Thurner syndrome develops is not completely known. However, we do know that DVT related to MTS is more common in women between the ages of 20 and 40, especially after pregnancy or following a long period of inactivity.

Symptoms of May-Thurner Syndrome

Patients with May-Thurner syndrome may not have any symptoms. However, in severe cases the following can occur:

  • Leg swelling and pain
  • Blood clots
  • Deep vein thrombosis

When Should You Seek Treatment for May-Thurner Syndrome?

If you are experiencing symptoms including swelling, pain or tenderness in the leg, feeling of increased warmth in the leg, redness or discoloration of the skin, or enlarged veins in the leg you should seek treatment.

Though deep vein thrombosis itself is not life-threatening, the blood clot can break free and travel through the bloodstream, where it can become lodged in the blood vessels of the lung. This is known as a pulmonary embolism, and can be life-threatening.

DVT can also lead to complications in the legs referred to as chronic venous insufficiency; a condition characterized by pooling of blood, chronic leg swelling, increased pressure, increased pigmentation or discoloration of the skin, and leg ulcers.

How is May-Thurner Syndrome diagnosed?

The lack of symptoms associated with May-Thurner syndrome make it hard to diagnose.

In order to make a diagnosis your doctor may use the following imaging tests:

  • Ultrasound – uses high-frequency sound waves to capture live images from inside your body
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) – uses computers and rotating x-ray machines to create cross-sectional images of the body.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – uses powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed pictures inside your body.
  • Venogram – an x-ray test that involves injecting contrast material into a vein to show how blood flows through your veins.

IVC’s Treatment for May-Thurner Syndrome

Treatment of symptomatic May-Thurner syndrome has evolved over the years from traditional open repair to less invasive endovascular repair. At IVC, we offer minimally invasive outpatient treatments for May-Thurner syndrome. Angioplasty and stenting are used to widen the vessel and keep it open so blood can flow properly.

Call IVC today at 503-612-0498 to schedule an appointment for consultation.

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Jason Bauer, MD RVT
Michael Pfister, MD RVT

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