Phleboliths

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What are Phleboliths?

Phleboliths are masses of different sizes found in your vein inside the pelvic region. These masses are made of calcium deposits and lime and their presence can indicate an underlying medical condition. Phleboliths are usually not harmful unless there is a serious underlying condition that needs urgent treatment1.

Phleboliths perirectal region

Phleboliths in Pelvis

Causes of Phleboliths

There are a number of possible causes of phleboliths such as 3, 4, 5:

Tumors

Begin tumors that develop in your digestive system and stomach ulcers can affect the walls of the veins. This can cause increased pressure in the veins leading to phleboliths.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are swollen veins. Any vein in your body can become varicose. But those that are mostly affected are found in your legs and feet. Varicose vein can occur due to prolonged immobility. For example sitting or standing in one place for a long time exerts pressure on the veins in your legs thus limiting blood flow from these areas to the heart.

Varicose veins are painful and can make you uneasy to venture out. In some cases, varicose veins can cause life-threatening conditions such as ulcers and thrombophlebitis which is formation of blood clots deep in your legs veins. Varicose veins can damage your veins leading to phleboliths developing.

Although the exact causes of varicose vein are not known, medical research has revealed that pregnancy, age and obesity are the leading risk factors for this condition. As people grow older, they become more prone to varicose veins. Aging causes tear and wear in the valves of your veins which control flow of blood. This wear and tear will eventually cause the valves to permit some blood to flow backwards into the veins instead of flowing to your heart.

Having excess weight exerts pressure on your veins and can damage them eventually. Varicose vein can also affect some expectant women. During pregnancy, the volume of blood in the body increases but this lowers the flow of blood into your legs. These changes although are beneficial in supporting the fetus to grow, they can cause undesirable effects such as swollen legs which can cause phleboliths.3

Bowel movement

In case you strain a lot to pass bowel, you are more likely to develop phleboliths. Prolonged straining exerts more pressure on your veins and can damage them leading to phleboliths.

Liver diseases

Liver is the largest organ and performs vital functions in the body. Some of its functions include: manufacture of blood clotting factors, secretion of bile to assist in digestion, breaking down medicines into their active constituents for use in the body, manufacture of amino acids, among others. Therefore when the liver is injured or damaged the body will not be able to carry out these functions.

Liver diseases refer to a group of diseases that affect the function of the liver. There are many diseases that can affect the liver such as liver cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a condition that causes permanent scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis occurs after prolonged consumption of alcohol. This will replace the healthy liver cells with scar tissues which affects the function of the liver.

Besides affecting the normal body functions, liver diseases create problems in the veins which can lead to phleboliths developing in the abdominal area.

Trauma

Any form of injury to the blood vessels can damage the walls of the vein. This can increase pressure in the affected vein which can lead to phleboliths.

Symptoms of Phleboliths

Phleboliths signs and symptoms include1, 2:

  • Patients feel pain which is mostly felt in the pelvic region. But this pain may also be felt in the patient’s lower back or abdomen. This pain resembles that of kidney stones.
  • Patients may have swollen veins in the legs or feet. This occurs due to blockage of blood flow in the veins. This is also accompanied by pain in the pelvic region. Patients may also feel uneasy in the kidney or bladder.

Diagnosis of Phleboliths

Diagnosis of phleboliths is secondary; they are detected when not searching for them. Phleboliths are usually seen on X-rays when conducting tests for other medical conditions4.

Treatment for Phleboliths

Management and treatment for phleboliths depend on its severity. For mild cases, you will be treated with less invasive treatment options while in severe cases, more invasive curative options will be used. Management of phleboliths may include a combination of medicines, surgery intervention and home remedies.

The following are the treatment options for phleboliths2, 5, 6: Severe cases of phleboliths can be treated using the following:

Sclerotherapy

This is a medical intervention used to cure spider and varicose veins. It involves injecting a salt solution directly into the affected vein. This solution causes the lining of the blood vessel to collapse, join together and form blood clot. After some time, the blood vessel turns into a scar which eventually fades away.

  • Not everyone can undergo this procedure. If you are pregnant, have a history of blood clots and you have been using birth control pills, you are illegible for sclerotherapy.
  • Prior to undergoing this procedure, you should not apply any form of lotion to your legs. Your doctor will tell you which medications to avoid.

Endovascular laser therapy

This procedure uses tiny laser fibers to treat the affected vein. The laser releases energy which is directed to the affected veins which destroys its walls hence providing relief.

Surgical excision

Your surgeon will surgically expose the affected area; remove the vein and the nearby tissues to cure phleboliths.

For mild phleboliths, the following can be used to cure it:

Medications

Anti-inflammation medications can be recommended to ease swellings and inflammation in the affected veins. The following drugs can be prescribed: Amphetamine-Dextroamphetamine , Cyclobenzaprine and Gabapentin. You can also get over-the-counter drugs such as paracetamol.

Home remedies

You can use the following simple home remedies to ease symptoms of phleboliths:

  • Use warm water: Put a clean cloth in warm water and apply it directly to the affected vein. This will help reduce pain and discomfort of phleboliths.

Prevention of Phleboliths

Phleboliths can be prevented. You can use the following lifestyle changes tips to prevent phleboliths1:

  • Avoid prolonged immobility. Sitting or standing for long periods of time contributes to this condition. Make sure you take a short walk, run or stretch to keep your body active.
  • Put on loose cloths especially in the waist area. Tight clothing in this area can cause phleboliths.
  • Drink a lot of water each day to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can elevate your blood pressure which can cause phleboliths.

Images

Phleboliths

Phleboliths upper limbs

Reference List

  1. Phleboliths. http://www.newhealthguide.org/phlebolith.html
  2. http://www.belmarrahealth.com/causes-phleboliths-pelvis/
  3. Varicose veins. http://www.belmarrahealth.com/varicose-veins-update-causes-natural-treatment-essential-oils/
  4. http://www.patientslikeme.com/conditions/2736-phleboliths
  5. http://answers.webmd.com/answers/5040569/what-are-phleboliths
  6. http://radiopaedia.org/articles/phleboliths

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