Illusory Angiographic Signs of Significant Iliac Vein Compression in Healthy Volunteers

Timme M. A. J. van Vuuren*, Ralph L. M. Kurstjens, Cees H. A. Wittens, Jorinde H. H. van Laanen, Rick de Graaf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Iliac vein compression syndrome can cause severe leg symptoms. In clinical practice, it remains a challenge to differentiate which compression is clinically relevant. The aim of the current study was to assess the general treatment indications and the prevalence of angiographic signs of iliac vein compression in a group of healthy participants.

Methods:This was a prospective cohort study. A total of 20 healthy volunteers (median age 21, range 20-22 years) were recruited through advertisement and underwent angiography of the iliac veins. When no compression signs were present, a balloon occlusion was performed. Additionally, a 10 item survey regarding indications for venous stenting was developed and sent to 30 vascular specialists treating patients with deep venous obstruction.

Results: In 16 (80%) participants, at least two signs indicative of May-Thurner compression were seen. In three (15%) subjects, narrowing of the common iliac vein without collaterals was shown and one (5%) did not show any signs of obstruction. In 23 (70%) of the survey responders, collaterals were found to be the most typical sign indicative of significant venous obstruction. An angiographic sign of >50% compression was found to be an indication to stent in 55% of responders.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates a remarkably high percentage of generally accepted signs of significant iliac vein obstruction (May-Thurner compression) on venography in healthy young subjects. Diagnosis of true iliac vein obstruction remains a major challenge, which mostly leans on improvement of clinical symptoms rather than imaging findings. Treating the patient rather than the image seems to be a valid principle all the more. (C) 2018 European Society for Vascular Surgery. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-879
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Iliac vein
  • Compression
  • May-Thurner syndrome
  • Healthy


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