Ovarian Vein Embolization

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This procedure is used as a treatment for a painful condition of the lower abdomen called pelvic congestion syndrome or ovarian vein reflux. Somewhat like what happens with varicose veins, veins in the lower abdomen can become enlarged and cause painful pressure. Using a catheter — a thin tube that is inserted through a small nick in the inner thigh — a radiologist administers agents that block the flow of blood to faulty veins. About 85% of women report pain relief or improvement within 2 to 3 weeks.

Need to Know

Nice to Know
  • Tell your technologist about any allergies, especially to local or general anesthetics and contrast material
  • Inform your technologist if you are pregnant
  • Before your procedure, you’ll meet with your Jefferson Radiology physician for a consultation
  • You’ll be given a gown to wear during your treatment
  • You’ll be given conscious sedation during the procedure to keep you comfortable
  • This treatment is a minimally invasive alternative to conventional surgery
  • No surgical incision is needed, just a small nick in the skin
  • You may feel some discomfort after the procedure, but no serious pain
  • You will need a driver to bring you and take you home


How Does It Work?

Using a thin tube called a catheter an interventional radiologist injects a substance called an embolic agent at the site of the enlarged pelvic blood vessels. The embolic agent either blocks or causes the body to block the vessel, preventing the accumulation of blood in faulty vessels, and thereby reducing the pelvic congestion.

What Happens — Before, During, and After?

When you arrive for your procedure, a nurse will bring you into the pre-procedure area and ask you to change into a gown and empty your bladder.  An intravenous (IV) line will be inserted into a vein in your hand or arm this will be used to give you sedatives during the procedure.Your doctor will greet you, explain the procedure, and answer any questions you may have.

A technologist or nurse will wheel your bed into the procedures room, and you’ll be positioned on the examining table. The technologist or nurse will connect monitors for your heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse,.

The technologist will shave, sterilize, and cover the area of your body where a catheter will be inserted with a surgical drape, usually the inner thigh. The radiologist will make a very small nick, and you may feel some pressure as the catheter is inserted, but you won’t feel any serious discomfort. Depending on the complexity of your condition, the procedure may take from 30 minutes to several hours. When the catheter is removed, pressure is applied to prevent bleeding, and the nick is bandaged. No sutures are needed.

Most patients feel some discomfort after the procedure. Medications can be given to control pain. You may also experience mild nausea or a low-grade fever. Some patients experience cramps. You will be able to go home after some recovery time.  You will need a driver to bring you and take you home,

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How Should I Prepare?

There are things you can do to make your experience more comfortable, and many of these will depend on your individual preferences. You might like to keep a list of questions or — as you’re doing now — educate yourself about the procedure.

Another important part of your preparation will be guided by your doctor:

  • Your doctor may ask you to stop taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or blood thinners (such as Coumadin or warfarin) for a time before the procedure.

Some of your preparation will need to be timed to the procedure:

  • The day before the procedure (or the Friday before, if you're scheduled for a Monday procedure), a nurse from the Interventional Radiology Department will call you. The nurse will give you any additional instructions, and will ask if you have any questions.
  • When you arrive, make sure the nurse and radiologist know about any allergies you may have, especially allergies to local anesthetics (such as lidocaine), or contrast material).
  • If there's any chance you may be pregnant, tell your radiologist.
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What Should I Bring?

You may want to invite a family member or friend to accompany you to your procedure. Some of the things that you might consider taking include:

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Avoid bringing jewelry or valuables
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What Are the Benefits and Risks?

The benefits of ovarian vein embolization could include:

  • The procedure is much less invasive than conventional surgical techniquesand the recovery is faster.

Risks you should be aware of include:

  • The small chance that the procedure will not be successful in relieving your pain
  • Like any catheterization procedure, there is a risk of damage to blood vessels, bruising, bleeding, or infection at the puncture site
  • There is a small risk of infection at the site of embolization, even with antibiotics

Keep in mind that this information is general. Your radiologist is the best source of information about how these risks and benefits may apply to you.

Where Can I Get This Exam?


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