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Iliac vein compression is a condition that affects blood vessels in the lower abdomen. Your arteries move oxygenated blood away from the heart, and your veins bring the blood back to the heart to be re-oxygenated. These arteries and veins cross over each other in the body. This is normally not a problem, but in some cases the artery compresses the vein causing it to narrow and have decreased blood flow. When the flow is restricted, blood has more difficulty flowing back towards the heart. This can put you at a higher risk for DVT, or deep vein thrombosis. Iliac vein compression occurs more commonly in the left iliac vein but can affect the right iliac vein as well.
- Heaviness or cramping
- Changes in skin color or texture
- Redness and warmth
- Bulging veins
Iliac vein compression is more likely if you
- Are female
- Have scoliosis
- Just had a baby
- Have had more than one child
- Take oral birth control
- Have a condition that causes your blood to clot
To determine the presence of iliac vein compression, your physician may first order an ultrasound of the lower extremities. If this test is negative, your physician may order a CT scan or Venogram to get a more in-depth look at the vessels in the pelvis.
Angioplasty and stent is a common treatment for iliac vein compression. This procedure is performed at Huntsville Hospital Heart Center by cardiologist Michael Ridner, MD. It is done on an outpatient basis and does not require general anesthesia. You can expect to be at the Heart Center for 4-6 hours and then discharged home. You will be scheduled for follow-up visits to check the stents at one week, one month, three months and six months and you will be prescribed blood thinners for a period of at least 6 months. After that time, you may be able to stop blood thinners and will only be required to have yearly monitoring. Since the stents are permanently placed, they will require lifelong yearly monitoring by your physician.