Have You Heard of the Nutcracker Syndrome?

doctors performing surgeryThere has been an increase in patients undergoing venous stent placement in the past few years. This procedure has already revolutionized the treatment of chronic venous and arterial conditions.

But did you know that venous stents could also help treat Nutcracker Syndrome?

Renal nutcracker syndrome is a rare vascular condition that occurs when the two main arteries near the kidneys compress the left renal vein between them. Thus, the condition compares with a nutcracker.

Causes

The abdominal aorta and the super mesenteric artery compress the left renal vein. This causes blood from the renal vein to flow back into nearby veins. The backflow causes other veins to swell, which results in flank pain and intermittent presence of blood and protein in the urine.

This condition is rare but it can affect adults and children. It is not hereditary, though it multiple pregnancies may trigger it. Specific causes are still unknown.

Signs and symptoms

In a recent study by, 72.7% of patients studied showed abdominal pain, 57.6% showed blood in urine, 39.4% showed protein in the urine, and 30.3% showed left flank pain.

Nutcracker syndrome is common among women in their 30s and 40s, and symptoms appear after rapid weight loss. Although most people experience pain, this condition can be present in children without any symptoms.

Other symptoms include:

Diagnosis

It is difficult to diagnose Nutcracker Syndrome because its symptoms are like other disorders. To rule out other conditions, your doctor will request for blood tests, urinalysis and culture, cytology, scans, and biopsy. To confirm a diagnosis, your doctor may order tests such as Doppler ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI.

Treatment

The treatment varies based on age, symptoms, and severity of the condition. For patients 18 and below, no treatment is necessary, as they may be able to resolve the condition as they grow older.

However, for patients with Nutcracker Syndrome, using a venous stent may be recommended. The surgeon will make a small puncture in your leg, inserts a catheter with a guide wire into your renal vein. Once the stent is in the right place, he will expand it to keep your vein open. Recovery time may take two to three months to allow your body to accept the stent and for new tissues to surround it.