Interventional Radiology

Ovarian vein embolisation

What is ovarian vein embolisation?

Ovarian vein embolisation is a minimally invasive treatment for pelvic vein congestion that is used to close off faulty veins so they can no longer enlarge with blood, thus relieving the pain.   Pelvic vein congestion is a painful condition resulting from the presence of varicose veins in the pelvis. 

During this procedure, an interventional radiologist inserts a catheter up the femoral vein and into the faulty vein(s). Catheterisation requires only a small nick in the skin for insertion and x-ray image guidance of the catheter to its target area.

The catheter delivers filaments-bearing coils that clot the blood and seal the faulty vein. 

How does the procedure work?

Using x-ray imaging and a contrast material to visualise the blood vessel, the interventional radiologist inserts a catheter through the skin into a blood vessel and advances it to the treatment site. A synthetic material or medication called an embolic agent is then inserted through the catheter and positioned within the blood vessel or malformation where it will remain either permanently or temporarily.

Temporary embolic agents block blood vessels long enough to allow the body to heal on its own. Permanent embolic agents physically plug-up blood vessels and cause scar tissue to form in the vessel. This is important in treating conditions such as arteriovenous malformations and tumors, which would recur if the embolic agent dissolved.

What are the risks and benefits?

Benefits

  • Embolisation is a highly effective way of controlling bleeding, especially in an emergency situation.
  • Embolisation is much less invasive than conventional open surgery. As a result, there are fewer complications and the hospital stay is relatively brief—often only the night after the procedure. Blood loss is less than with traditional surgical treatment, and there is no obvious surgical incision.
  • This method can be used to treat tumors and vascular malformations that either cannot be removed surgically or would involve great risk if surgery was attempted.
  • No surgical incision is needed—only a small nick in the skin that does not have to be stitched.

Risks

  • There is a very slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is injected.
  • Any procedure that involves placement of a catheter inside a blood vessel carries certain risks. These risks include damage to the blood vessel, bruising or bleeding at the puncture site, and infection. However precaution is taken to mitigate these risks.
  • There is always a chance that an embolic agent can lodge in the wrong place and deprive normal tissue of its oxygen supply.
  • There is a risk of infection after embolisation, even if an antibiotic has been given.