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May Thurner Syndrome

May-Thurner syndrome is a vein disorder that affects the legs. In this condition, the right iliac artery in the pelvis puts pressure on the left iliac vein, causing it to become narrower. The left iliac vein is a major vein that helps blood to be pulled up from the legs. Narrowing of this important blood vessel causes the blood circulation to be affected and this can have serious consequences for the patient.

Symptoms of May-Thurner Syndrome

The compression and narrowing of the left iliac vein does not necessarily lead to any visible symptoms even though the blood flow is affected. A person who may have developed the disorder can still carry on with their daily life without becoming aware of the disease.
The disorder is first detected when it leads to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is a condition where a blood clot forms inside the leg veins. The clot constricts and slows down the blood flow up the vein.
DVT is detected through one of the following signs.

• Pain in the lower or upper legs

•Tenderness or throbbing in the tissues around the veins

•Leg skin becomes discolored, red or has a leathery feel to it

•Swelling in the legs or ankles

•An asymmetrical swelling of one leg

•A feeling of numbness or heaviness in the legs

•Appearance of large varicose veins in legs

Risk Factors for May-Thurner Syndrome

Research shows that May-Thurner Syndrome is quite random and can affect a person irrespective of age, gender or other circulatory problems. It is difficult to know for certain how many people are affected by the disorder as people who may have developed the condition would not even know that they have it until they are affected by DVT.
People with higher risk factors include the following

•Women are more likely to be affected, compared to men

•It is more likely to occur during childbirth or pregnancy

•People with scoliosis are also at a higher risk

•A person who takes oral birth control can also be affected

•Long periods of severe dehydration can also cause this problem

•An existing condition that causes the blood to clot a lot can also increase the chance of this problem


The disorder can be diagnosed with the help a CT scan, ultrasound or venogram test.

Treatment of May-Thurner Syndrome

The objective of treatment is to reduce the symptoms and improve blood flow through the affected vein. May-Thurner can be treated by relieving the compressed pain with a stent. Common treatment options include the following.

Angioplasty and Stenting

Angioplasty is a non-surgical and minimally invasive procedure that is used to widen the vein after a blood clot has been eradicated. Using a small balloon fixed at the tip of a catheter that is placed inside the vein and inflated with air, the vein is expanded.
The procedure may be followed by placing a stent in the vein to increase the blood flow.  A stent is a small, mesh-like tube that stays in the vein permanently to keep it open.


Anticogulation is used to remove blood clots in the veins that could be restricting the blood flow. Blood thinners are injected directly into the affected part of the vein.

Catheter Directed Thrombolytic Therapy

In cases where direct injection of blood thinner into the affected vein is not possible, it may be delivered through a long, slender catheter tube. The thinning medicine is injected directly into the clot causing it to dissolve over a matter of hours or days.