Objective: The correlation between ovarian venous insufficiency and lower limb venous insufficiency remains poorly understood. Clinically, incompetent ovarian veins in association with lower extremity varicose veins are suspected when leg varicose veins are found in atypical distributions. Such distributions include upper lateral or posterior thigh, on the buttocks, crossing the inguinal ligament, and also in the vulval or perineal regions. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of ovarian venous insufficiency in those with clinically suspicious varicose veins, and to assess the effectiveness of ovarian venous embolization/ligation in treating this condition.
Methods: Between June 2001 and December 2004, 424 female patients with lower limb superficial venous insufficiency were seen by a single vascular surgeon. These patients were clinically assessed, and those with atypical varicose veins were investigated with venous duplex examination and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) venography. Patients with proven ovarian venous insufficiency were offered venography with a view to embolization or laparoscopic ligation.
Results: A total of seven patients were clinically suspected of having ovarian venous insufficiency, of which three had recurrent varicose veins (42.9%). Of these, six were confirmed on MRI venography with the left side being more affected than the right; one of them had an occluded vena cava, three were treated by embolization, and two had laparoscopic ligation.
Discussion: The prevalence of clinically detectable ovarian venous insufficiency in association with lower extremity varicose veins is in the region of 1.65%. Compared with the estimated prevalence of incidental ovarian venous insufficiency of 10-47%, this suggests that only a minority of incompetent ovarian veins will present with clinically detectable lower limb venous insufficiency. In our opinion, patients with signs suggestive of ovarian venous insufficiency in association with lower limb venous insufficiency should have their ovarian insufficiency controlled prior to embarking on limb venous surgery.