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Understanding the Health Risks Related to May-Thurner Syndrome

Health Risks of May-Thurner SyndromeMay-Thurner Syndrome (MTS), otherwise known as iliac vein compression syndrome, is a condition where the left iliac vein is compressed by an artery, known as the right iliac artery. This condition increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot, in the left extremity. While DVT may not be a life-threatening condition, the blood clots can break free, travel through the bloodstream and block the blood vessels of the lung causing pulmonary embolism which is life threatening.

Signs and Symptoms

Most patients don't realize they have May-Thurner Syndrome, as they do not show any symptoms until they are diagnosed with DVT.

May-Thurner Syndrome symptoms include:

  • Blood clots

  • Leg pain

  • Swollen leg

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Diagnosis

May-Thurner syndrome is diagnosed by imaging the pelvic area and lower back using techniques that include the following:

  • X-ray

  • Ultrasound imaging

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 

  • computed tomography (CT) scans

  • Venogram or phlebogram

Treatment

Most treatments for May-Thurner Syndrome are directed at treating DVT. There are different ways to treat vein compression but like any other medical procedure, before you go through with it, ask your healthcare provider for the benefits, risks and possible side effects of the treatment. Listed below are the different types of treatment for DVT:

  • Anticoagulation. A blood-thinning medication may be prescribed to prevent blood clots. Your physician should monitor you closely while you are using blood thinners to ensure your safety.
  • Thrombolysis. A nonsurgical procedure that involves inserting a catheter into the vein to deliver the clot-dissolving medications directly the blood clot. The clot may dissolve in a matter of hours or a few days, depending on the individual. Pharmacomechanical thrombolysis, a more recent technology, employs a combination of using a device that mechanically breaks the clot apart and clot-dissolving drugs
  • Angioplasty and stenting. Oftentimes, a more aggressive treatment for the compressed vein is needed after thrombolysis. Angioplasty is a nonsurgical procedure used to widen the vein after dissolving the blood clot. To increase blood flow, a small balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated to stretch the vein open. During angioplasty, a stent or hard tube will be placed at the location of the compression to keep the vein open, despite the surrounding pressure. 
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If you suspect that you have MTS or even DVT, consult with a trusted healthcare provider and have yourself treated right away. Do not dally as this may mean increased health risk. Do not forfeit your life to a potentially treatable illness.

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