In a world first, a research study looking at the diagnosis and treatment of pelvic vein incompetence and chronic pelvic pain is being carried out by researchers at the Academic Surgery Unit at the University Hospital of South Manchester.
Researchers believe damaged veins deep in the pelvis may be a cause of chronic pelvic pain in women (CPP). CPP is often untreated, and may affect millions of women across the UK and Europe.
The two-year study focuses on 260 women who have already been assessed by a gynaecologist to rule out more common conditions.
Ultrasound scans are performed to determine whether the pelvic veins are damaged or not. If they are, a procedure is performed to block the damaged veins.
This works in a similar way to the treatment of varicose veins in the leg. The researchers will monitor these patients for one year to see if the procedure benefits the patients.
Professor of Surgery Charles McCollum said: “There is a great deal of research that is needed in the future but this is the first high quality, randomised study worldwide for women suffering chronic pelvic pain.
“The numbers of women who may be suffering in silence are absolutely extraordinary – around 55 per cent of women with chronic pelvic pain never get a diagnosis.
“In the UK alone there could be three million women with this condition and 36 million across Europe, so it’s a massive problem. In my entire experience I have never come across a condition that’s so incredibly common and for which we can do so little.”
Linda Clifton, of Cheadle Hulme, has agreed to take part in the study. She has suffered from chronic pelvic pain for six years and it has worsened since she gave birth to twin girls.
She said: “I have had lots of procedures done but none have ever worked. It causes me severe pain that comes on through my left thigh and into the muscle of my buttock area and groin.
“When it happens all I can do is sit or lie down as it is agony and it lasts for up to two hours. I also have lots of sleepless nights.”