Phleboliths are a common part of aging and may never cause any trouble. But any problem with your circulatory system should be taken seriously and may require imaging to help your doctor treat them. Phleboliths are tinny classifications (masses of calcium) located within a vein. They are sometimes called vein stones.
They are usually present from birth, or congenital. Non-genetic causes of phleboliths include:
Damage to the walls of the vein
Straining from Constipation, which damages pelvic phleboliths
Poor blood flow
Abnormalities in the vein, or venous malformations, which slow the flow of blood and cause calcium to collect
Studies suggest that old age and pregnancy may also increase your risk of getting phleboliths.
Depending on the size, location, and number of phleboliths you have, you may never notice any symptoms. Sometimes they can cause pain in the stomach or pelvis. If the pain is very sharp, you may have kidney stones instead of phleboliths.
Varicose veins, which are enlarged veins overfilled with blood, can be a symptom of phleboliths. They’re usually visible under the skin and have a red or bluish-purple color. Varicose veins are often painful. Another common symptom of phleboliths is ongoing constipation.
Your doctor will likely use an X-ray or MRI scan to see if you have phleboliths. An ultrasound may also show phleboliths if they’re near the skin’s surface. Sometimes it is hard to tell phleboliths apart from other small classifications, such as kidney or ureteral stones.
A ureteral stone is a type of kidney stone that travels through the ureters, the tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder. Ureteral stones tend to appear near the lower back part of the hip bone.
Treatment of phleboliths
Most often, phleboliths require no treatment and do not indicate any risk of disease. If phleboliths are causing intense pain, a doctor may suggest the following treatment options:
Endovascular laser therapy:
This involves using a laser fiber to seal off the vein, and it is a common treatment for varicose veins.
In this procedure, the vein containing the phleboliths is shrunk with an injection.
Depending on the severity of the vein abnormalities, a surgeon may need to remove the vein and surrounding tissue. This is performed under a general anesthetic.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen, can reduce general pain caused by phleboliths.
Phleboliths are a common part of aging and may never cause any trouble. However, any problem with your circulatory system should be taken seriously. If you receive a diagnosis of phleboliths, you can still play sports and safely participate in most activities. Just have some imaging done so you and your doctor understand what’s at stake.