May-Thurner Syndrome and Lymphedema Reconstruction

Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2022 Jun 10;10(6):e4377. doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000004377. eCollection 2022 Jun.


May-Thurner syndrome (MTS) is an anatomical variant that results in compression of the left common iliac vein by the right common iliac artery. Although often asymptomatic, lower extremity swelling/edema, deep venous thrombosis, post-thrombotic syndrome, and eventual lymphedema (due to long-standing venous obstruction) can develop. The clinical management of patients presenting for lymphedema surgery with concomitant or undiagnosed MTS is not well described.

Methods: This review investigates two patients who were evaluated for unilateral lower extremity lymphedema, both of whom were subsequently diagnosed with MTS. Standard imaging (including lymphoscintigraphy, indocyanine green lymphangiography, and magnetic resonance venography) were performed to identify proximal venous obstruction. Treatment was accomplished using vascular surgical management, including stenting of the iliac vein before lymphedema reconstruction with vascularized lymph node transfer and multiple lymphovenous bypass.

Results: Both patients we examined in this review had improvement of lymphedema with vascular surgical management. Literature review reveals that MTS has an incidence as high as 20% in the population, although commonly unidentified due to lack of symptomatology.

Conclusions: There are no studies documenting the incidence of MTS in patients referred for lymphedema surgical management. Routine studies should be obtained to screen for proximal venous obstruction in patients presenting for surgical management of lower extremity lymphedema. Additional research is needed regarding the approach to managing patients with both MTS and lymphedema. Careful observational and prospective studies may elucidate the appropriate time interval between venous stenting and lymphedema microsurgical reconstruction.