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Understanding May Thurner Syndrome

Posted on April 05, 2024

What is May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS)? This condition develops when the right common iliac artery compresses the left iliac vein, hindering blood drainage in the left leg. Without treatment, MTS increases your risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a kind of blood clot that forms in the deep leg veins. Additionally, the condition raises the risk for narrowed veins and additional disorders, leading researchers to conclude that MTS is the cause of 2-5% of all venous complications that impact the lower extremities.

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May-Thurner Syndrome Risk Factors

Women between the ages of 20 and 45 are at the highest risk. Just recently, US Representative Lauren Boebert (who is 37) got a May-Thurner syndrome diagnosis when she needed emergency surgery to remove her leg blood clot. Aside from age and gender, MTS risk factors include pregnancy, or long periods of immobility. Still, in rare cases, older women or even men may be impacted.

Warning Signs

May-Thurner symptoms include pelvic pain, swollen legs and varicose veins, typically in the left leg. The skin color may also change, and you could experience persistent pain or even leg ulcers. Hemorrhoids can also be a symptom of MTS.

Stages of Disease

If you don't treat May-Thurner Syndrome, disease progression will occur. Initially, you may not notice symptoms. However, over time, you could develop fibrous vein spurs that inhibit blood flow, immediately increasing your DVT risk. Next, a DVT may form, and at that stage, you are facing a medical emergency, since the clot could break free, traveling to the lungs as a pulmonary embolism.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

If you are a younger women who comes into the office complaining about varicose veins, we may screen you for May-Thurner Syndrome via ultrasound vein evaluation. Then, if we detect compression, we can provide interventional radiology procedures to inflate the vein, boosting your blood flow and reducing your DVT risk. And, if you aren't yet experiencing MTS symptoms, we can help reduce your risk for developing the condition.

Preventing May Thurner Syndrome

To reduce your risk for MTS, consider wearing compression socks during your pregnancy, or during long periods of air or car travel. Additionally, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk for this condition. However, if you are a young woman, age 20-45, and are concerned about your vein health, we're here to help. Click here to request an appointment with our vein specialists in Georgia. We can screen you for many forms of vein disease, and provide early intervention if we detect any cause for concern.

Sources: The Cleveland Clinic

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