What Patients Should Know about May-Thurner Syndrome

may thurner syndrome

May-Thurner syndrome can increase your chance of developing dangerous blood clots. Learn more about the symptoms of this painful condition and how to reduce your risk.

For patients concerned by the prospect of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), understanding the signs and symptoms of May-Thurner syndrome is a must. May-Thurner syndrome — sometimes known as iliac vein compression or Crockett’s syndrome — was named after the two physicians who first defined the condition. It occurs when the right iliac artery puts pressure on the left iliac vein in the pelvis.

With the added pressure in this area, patients can be at risk of developing DVT, or blood clots, in the left leg. This can cause painful swelling and even lead to a life-threatening pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lungs).

While May-Thurner syndrome can cause serious health complications, there are effective treatment options available. With the right attention from a qualified vein specialist, you can get the support you need to manage the risks.

What Causes May-Thurner Syndrome?

May-Thurner syndrome develops at random, with no genetic predisposition passed down from one generation to the next. However, certain populations and health histories make it more likely for the condition to occur. For example, if you’re female, have just had a child or have had more than one child, you’re at greater risk. Additional contributing factors include scoliosis, dehydration and a predisposition toward blood clotting.

Although veins and arteries crossing over one another is typical, in May-Thurner syndrome the right iliac artery presses the left iliac vein up against the bone. With greater pressure on a narrower opening, patients are at risk of DVT.

Know the Symptoms

Identifying May-Thurner syndrome can be difficult until DVT develops. If that happens, patients may notice changes in skin color, swelling, throbbing, cramps, warm skin and enlarged veins.

If this occurs, you should seek out medical attention. First, specialists will conduct a physical examination of the left leg. They may also recommend a CT, MRI, ultrasound or venogram in order to better understand the pressure being put on the affected veins.

However, it’s possible for DVT to become even more serious and cause a blood clot in your lungs. If you are experiencing chest pain, difficulty breathing, an above-average heart rate, and faintness — with the added possibility of coughing up blood — you should call 911 immediately.

Choosing the Right Treatment

For patients with May-Thurner syndrome, a number of treatment options are available. First and foremost, specialists will work to treat any blood clots currently in your system. Then, they’ll begin to recommend options that prevent new clots from forming.

To treat current clots, specialists may prescribe blood thinners, thrombolytic therapy, or surgical thrombectomy depending on the severity. To prevent new clots from forming or block clots from entering the lungs, patients may need a procedure to move the right iliac artery, an angioplasty and accompanying stent, or bypass surgery — among other options.

Regardless of which treatment specialists recommend, it’s important that you get the attention you need if you have—or are concerned you may have—May-Thurner syndrome. By scheduling a consultation with the Center for Vein Restoration, you can speak with experienced and qualified specialists who can find the right treatment for your specific needs and health history.

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