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May-Thurner syndrome

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    Compression of the left iliac vein by the artery which crosses over it. This is normal anatomy, but in some people the artery presses on the vein enough to thicken the vein wall over time. This condition may occur in adults or children.

    Isolated left lower extremity swelling secondary to left iliac vein compression was first described by James Playfair McMurrich (1859-1939), professor of anatomy at the University of Michigan, in 1908, and defined anatomically by May and Thurner in 1956 and clinically by Cockett and Thomas in 1965.


    • J. P. McMurrich:
      The occurrence of congenital ahhesions in the common iliac veins and their relations to thrombosis of the femoral and iliac veins.
      The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 1908, 135:342.
    • R. May, J. Thurner:
      Ein Gefässporn in der vena iliaca communis sinistra als wahrscheinliche ursache der überwiegend linksseitigen Beckenvenenthrombose.
      Zeitschrift für Kreislaufforschung, Darmstadt, 1956, 45: 912.
    • R. May, J. Thurner:
      The cause of the predominantly sinistral occurrence of thrombosis of the pelvic veins. Angiology, Glen Head, NY, October 1957, 8 (5): 419-427.
    • F. B. Cockett and L. Thomas:
      The iliac compression syndrome.
      The British Journal of Surgery, 1965, 52: 816-821.
    • F. B. Cockett
      Venous causes of swollen leg. The British Journal of Surgery, 1967, 54: 891-894.
    • L. M. Wolpert, et al.
      Magnetic resonance venography in the diagnosis and management of May-Thurner syndrome.
      Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Glen Head, NY, January-February 2002, 36 (1): 51-77.
    We thank Alan Wyatt and Fausto Biancari for information submitted

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