What are the Risk Factors for Iliac Vein Compression Syndrome?

The veins of our body hold a very important job: to send deoxygenated blood throughout the body and back to the heart. When the left iliac vein in the leg, which gathers blood from the organs in the pelvic region, is compressed by pressure from the right iliac vein, it creates a condition known as iliac vein compression syndrome. This condition is also called May-Thurner syndrome, or Crockett syndrome. If left untreated, it can cause a number of other complications, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT, a type of blood clot) or a pulmonary embolism (PE, a blood clot blocking arteries in the lung).

Carlos Hamilton III, MD, and the team at Hamilton Vascular with offices in Webster, Sugarland, Round Rock, and San Antonio, Texas, have years of experience diagnosing and treating a variety of vascular conditions including iliac vein compression syndrome. 


The iliac vein pressure that causes this condition isn’t entirely understood. Many people may not show any symptoms unless iliac vein compression syndrome causes a DVT. The current estimate is that around 3% of people with a DVT can trace it to a problem with iliac vein compression syndrome.

A DVT alone isn’t a major health risk, but a loose blood clot could result in a PE. This is a serious condition that can lower oxygen levels in the blood and cause damage to the lungs.

DVT symptoms include leg pain, discoloration, leg tenderness, throbbing, swelling, heaviness, or enlarged veins. It’s possible to have many non-DVT symptoms however, some similar and some entirely different. These include leg pain, swelling, heaviness, discoloration, walking leg pain (also known as venous claudication), leg ulcers, and enlarged veins.

Risk factors

A 2018 study discovered that women are twice as likely to get this condition than men and another study revealed the condition is most prevalent in females ages 20-40. Women are also at risk for a condition known as pelvic congestion syndrome. Things that can increase the risks of DVT in this condition include:

There are a few different ways to be diagnosed for this condition. Noninvasive methods like MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds, and venograms can be used, as well as the more invasive methods like a catheter-based venogram or an intravascular ultrasound.


Treatment for iliac vein compression syndrome can be tricky, because many patients won’t even realize they have it. Once tests have been done to determine the condition, the first goal for our team at Hamilton Vascular is to increase circulation in the affected area. If discovered before getting a DVT, treatment can help prevent that from happening.

Angioplasty, bypass surgery, and repositioning the right iliac vein are some methods of dealing with iliac vein compression syndrome. If the condition also causes a DVT, this can be treated with blood thinners, clot-busting medications, or a vena cava filter, which prevents a blood clot from reaching your lungs.

If you think you’re dealing with this condition and need treatment, make an appointment today with the Hamilton Vascular office most convenient to you.

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