Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a potentially dangerous blood clotting condition that carries some serious complications, including pulmonary embolisms. While DVT itself isn’t harmful, blood clots can break loose. When they migrate to the lungs, they can cause deadly embolisms.
DVT most often occurs in the legs, given the distance blood needs to travel as well as the force needed to move blood against gravity. For some people, there’s another condition that increases the risk of DVT in the left leg, a condition that occurs in the abdomen, near the spine. It’s called May-Thurner Syndrome.
Any time you have issues with blood vessels or blood flow is the ideal time to contact Cardiac and Vascular Interventions of New Jersey. As experts in their field, they know how to diagnose and treat even hard-to-recognize issues.
So, how can an issue in your lower back affect your left leg? Let’s look at the link between deep vein thrombosis and May-Thurner Syndrome.
The iliac veins
The primary deep veins of the legs, the iliacs, come together into a common blood vessel near the lumbar spine. Similarly, the iliac artery branches off in the same spot to supply fresh blood to the legs. It’s common throughout the body for veins and arteries to cross, and usually there are no problems when they do.
Sometimes, though, the right iliac artery presses the left iliac vein against the spine. The effect is like stepping on a hose. Blood flow through the vein back to the heart becomes restricted. Pressure in the vein below the point of contact increases, making it more likely for valves inside the vein to fail, permitting the pooling of blood that creates DVT.
When this compression of the left iliac vein happens, you have May-Thurner Syndrome, also called Cockett’s Syndrome or Iliac Vein Compression Syndrome. It’s a random feature of anatomy, with no genetic link.
You could be more at risk of May-Thurner Syndrome when:
- You’re female
- You’ve delivered a baby recently, or when you’ve had more than one baby
- Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, is present
- Your blood clots excessively, from a medical condition
- You’re dehydrated
- You use oral contraceptives
There are no symptoms for May-Thurner Syndrome until DVT symptoms start. You’ll only have these symptoms on the left side with May-Thurner Syndrome, though other cases of DVT can affect either leg.
As many as two in ten Americans could have the anatomical variant that causes May-Thurner Syndrome. Despite this relatively common rate of incidence, the syndrome is often overlooked, particularly if the patient has other factors that could contribute to DVT.
An accurate diagnosis often requires a specialist, and in the case of May-Thurner Syndrome, contact Cardiac and Vascular Interventions of New Jersey for the expert care you need. You can schedule an appointment online or by calling the office. Don’t delay if you suspect DVT. Book an exam now.