Whiteley Clinics started treating pelvic vein reflux (PVR), the underlying cause of pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS), in 1999. It was one of the first clinics in the world to start treating this condition and indeed there are now considerable numbers of publications in the peer-reviewed medical literature from Whiteley Clinics.
Recent research from Whiteley Clinics has shown that the treatment used, pelvic vein embolisation (PVE) is safe, effective at stopping the pelvic vein reflux and gives long-lasting results.
Unlike the veins of the leg, which are surrounded by subcutaneous fat, the pelvic veins have got very sensitive organs and vital structures around them. As such, we cannot use the heat producing method such as laser, which might end up burning the ovaries, uterus, vagina, bowel, bladder or indeed the ureters, nerves or arteries. Therefore to be able to treat these veins successfully, we need to be able to close them without using heat.
Open surgery or laparoscopic surgery is not particularly useful to treat pelvic veins. Firstly, the pain and complications from open surgery is not needed. Secondly, it is exceptionally difficult to get to the very small veins involved deep in the pelvis by using open surgery or laparoscopy.
By using x-ray guided venography, planned by the results of the transvaginal duplex ultrasound, we are able to place very thin catheters directly into the veins that need treatment. Once the catheter is in place, a combination of foam sclerotherapy and insertion of a specialist inert metal coil can be placed into the vein, closing it and stopping the pelvic vein reflux.
These procedures are now performed under local anaesthetic as a walk in, walk out treatment at Whiteley Clinics, Bond Street, London.
Although some patients are concerned about having coils placed into their pelvic veins, the actual metal involved is less than the clips used in many surgical procedures such as laparoscopic hernia repair or laparoscopic gallbladder removal and far far less than the metal used in a hip replacement or other joint replacement procedure.
Our published research has shown this to be a highly effective technique with exceptionally low complication risks even in the long term.
However there are very few centres in the world that have a big experience of these procedures, particularly in the internal iliac veins which are more usually the problem than ovarian veins.
We worked with PB Consulting and Boston Scientific to investigate the impact of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS) in the UK.
As part of this report, almost 100 women were surveyed. On average the respondents had 16 GP appointments before diagnosis and some patients had as many as 13 diagnostic tests during the 4 years it took for them to be correctly diagnosed.
A Freedom of Information request was sent to all 154 NHS Hospital Trusts in the UK and shockingly only 5 trusts said that they offered a specific test for Pelvic Congestion Syndrome.
If you would like to read the full report, click the link below.