Nutcracker syndrome surgery takes the squeeze away

Health Watch

BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Lower back pain, fatigue, and nausea. Symptoms that could be caused by any number of illnesses, but they’re also the hallmark signs of a serious condition called nutcracker syndrome where the veins in the lower abdomen are squeezed and restrict blood flow.

Thirty-five-year-old Kristine Sohn and her husband Eric met in eighth grade science class. The middle-school sweethearts are now partners in life and as church volunteers rehabbing homes after natural disasters.

“We’ll go in and work on those trees with the chainsaws,” Kristine Sohn told Ivanhoe.

But for more than ten years, Kristine often felt fatigue or pain in her side and back. Then two years ago, new symptoms that were even more troubling.

Kristine Sohn shared, “For about six months I was experiencing blood in the urine.”

“By the time blood in the urine became an issue we had already dealt with so many other things that it was one of those, okay, well now we have a clue that we could start looking towards,” Eric Sohn, Kristine’s husband, noted.

Kristine was referred to vascular surgeon, Kurtis Kim, MD, director of the Institute of Comprehensive Venous Diseases and Vascular Compression Syndromes at Mercy. Dr. Kim diagnosed Kristine with nutcracker syndrome, a condition where abdominal arteries squeeze the vein leading to the kidneys.

Dr. Kim said, “So, you could imagine the nutcracker being cracked like this, where the renal vein gets really gets compressed here.”

To relieve the pressure Dr. Kim threaded a small tube through a catheter into Kristine’s abdomen, to perform what’s called extra vascular stenting.

“The stent, or graft that goes outside of the vein, so that the compression, whatever is compressing, it is lifted up,” Dr. Kim shared.

Kristine started feeling much better immediately.

“It was very, very painless, very minimal,” declared Kristine.

Eric Sohn exclaimed, “It was pretty incredible.”

In fact, just eight weeks later, Kristine and Eric were once again teamed up on rooftops. Partners in sickness and in health.

In addition to nutcracker syndrome, Doctor Kim also diagnosed Kristine with an additional vein compression condition called May-Thurner syndrome. She received additional treatment for that condition.

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