Schedule an initial consultation at one of these locations:

Utah Vascular Clinic


650 East 4500 South, Suite 100
Salt Lake City, UT 84107

Ogden Regional Medical Center


5475 South 500 East
Washington Terrace, UT 84405


Women's Services

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

What is pelvic congestion syndrome?

Pelvic congestion syndrome (also known as pelvic vein incompetence) is a medical condition in women caused by varicose veins inside the pelvis. In some women, the varicose veins can cause chronic pain.

Chronic pelvic pain is defined as "non-cyclic" pain lasting greater than six months. Chronic pelvic pain can be a complex medical condition, with many possible causes. As a result, diagnosing and effectively treating the underlying cause of chronic pelvic pain can be very frustrating for patients and providers alike.

If the clinical symptoms are those of chronic pelvic pain, worse when sitting or standing, and sometimes also associated with varicose veins in the thigh, buttock regions, or vaginal area, the possibility of ovarian vein and pelvic varicose veins should be considered.

How is pelvic congestion syndrome diagnosed?

Because pelvic varices are internal, imaging tests or laparoscopy (a surgical procedure) is required for diagnosis. A CT scan or MRI are the most recommended imaging tests for diagnosing pelvic varicose veins. Ultrasound imaging is less accurate, but can suggest the diagnosis when large veins are found in the region of the uterus and ovaries.

Detecting pelvic varicose veins is only part of the diagnosis of pelvic congestion syndrome, since some women with pelvic varicose veins do not experience pain, while others may have pain due to a different diagnosis. A careful discussion of symptoms is also needed to determine whether varicose veins are likely to be the source of pain.

How is pelvic congestion treated?

Pelvic varicose veins are treated through a minimally invasive procedure called embolization. During embolization, an interventional radiologist guides a slender hollow tube, called a catheter, into the pelvic veins under X-ray guidance. The veins are then permanently closed with injections of a medication and placement of small metal coils through the catheter. The procedure is performed under mild sedation with a local anesthetic, and recovery is quick. Most women notice a rapid improvement in their symptoms over the following days or weeks.

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Do you know the signs & symptoms?

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in your legs, but sometimes in your arm.

  • Swelling, usually in one leg
    (or arm)
  • Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or
    Charley horse
  • Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
  • Leg (or arm) warm to touch

Pulmonary Embolism

Clots can break off from a DVT and travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal.

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Chest pain-sharp, stabbing; may get worse with deep breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus