The Challenge: A Swollen Foot
In 2013, Olivia Weiland was a college student enjoying her classes and life in Pittsburgh.
One fall night, she had trouble taking off her left shoe. When she finally removed it, she saw that her foot was very swollen.
Olivia sought help at a local urgent care center. When an x-ray showed no trouble with her bones, her doctor suspected a blood clot and rushed her to a nearby emergency room.
After tests and hours of waiting, doctors couldn’t figure out what caused the swelling in Olivia's foot. They discharged her and told her to see a podiatrist — a doctor that specializes in foot care.
Over the next two years, Olivia saw three podiatrists and tried different treatments, but none helped.
The Path to UPMC's Division of Vascular Surgery
Olivia’s podiatrist referred her to the Division of Vascular Surgery at UPMC Passavant. There, her doctor ordered a CT scan and MRI.
Her test results showed that an artery in her pelvis was putting pressure on one of her veins.
The doctor diagnosed her with May-Thurner syndrome.
What is May-Thurner syndrome?
May-Thurner syndrome is a rare disorder in which the left iliac vein — the vein that brings blood from the pelvis back up to the heart — becomes compressed by a nearby artery.
This compression limits blood flow and can lead to:
- Deep vein thrombosis — a blood clot that can completely block blood flow
Olivia’s doctor referred her to Michael Singh, MD, chief of Vascular Surgery at UPMC Shadyside and an expert in treating patients with May-Thurner syndrome.
Olivia remembers feeling at ease with Dr. Singh right away.
“I’ve seen plenty of doctors, and he’s my favorite,” she says.
Dr. Singh talked with Olivia about her treatment options. He suggested placing stents — small tubes made of metal mesh — to hold her vein open and allow blood to flow properly.
Olivia admits that she was reluctant at first to have the procedure, but she felt confident in Dr. Singh’s knowledge and experience.
The Solution: Two Stents to Bring Back Healthy Blood Flow
In May 2016, Olivia underwent a stent placement procedure.
Dr. Singh used a catheter — a thin, flexible tube — to access the compressed vein in Olivia’s abdomen. He placed two stents, relieving the compression and bringing back healthy blood flow.
Olivia is grateful for the care she received from Dr. Singh and his team.
The swelling in her foot will take a few months to resolve. Although she needs to wear compression socks each day, Olivia has gotten back to living a more normal life.
Olivia's treatment and results may not be representative of similar cases.
Learn More About Vascular Surgery
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