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A Look at Nutcracker Syndrome with CardioVascular Health Clinic

At CardioVascular Health Clinic, your overall health and well-being matter to us.

While we often consider the heart and lungs the most popular and talked about organs, the kidneys are just as important, playing vital roles in many essential body functions. 

When most people think of kidneys, they generally think of their primary function in the urinary tract, but kidneys perform many duties that help keep our bodies balanced and functioning.

From making red blood cells and filtering our blood to maintaining blood pressure and controlling our pH levels, kidney health is vital to overall health. 

So, when faced with an unexpected kidney-related condition, like renal nutcracker syndrome, it is essential to get prompt care and a personalized treatment plan to ensure your kidneys are in top shape after diagnosis.

Here we discuss nutcracker syndrome in more detail, including causes, symptoms, dangers, and treatment options available at CardioVascular Health Clinic. Read on to learn more.

What is Nutcracker Syndrome?

Renal nutcracker syndrome, or nutcracker syndrome, is a rare vascular condition directly impacting the left kidney. 

It occurs when the left renal vein, which carries blood from the left kidney to the heart, is compressed between the aorta (the main artery in the body) and the superior mesenteric artery (an artery that supplies blood to the intestines).

This compression can lead to various symptoms that can negatively impact everyday life. 

The term "nutcracker syndrome" was coined due to the similarity between the compression of the left renal vein and the action of a nutcracker cracking a nut.

Nutcracker syndrome is typically diagnosed using imaging tests such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

Nutcracker Syndrome Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Nutcracker syndrome can range from mild to severe.

The most common symptoms include:

  • blood in your urine
  • pelvic or abdominal pain
  • protein in your urine, measured by a doctor 
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • back pain, particularly on the left side
  • enlarged veins in testicles
  • lightheadedness while standing, but not while sitting

It is important to note that pelvic congestion syndrome, although a condition on its own, can be a symptom of Nutcracker syndrome, causing symptoms such as an irritable bladder or bowels and a dull ache in the pelvis, primarily upon standing for long periods or during the menstrual cycle in women.

In rare cases, people with Nutcracker syndrome do not experience any symptoms. When this occurs, it is known as the “nutcracker phenomenon.”

Nutcracker Syndrome Causes

The specific cause of Nutcracker syndrome varies from person to person. While some people are born with the condition, others develop it due to changes in the abdomen.

Nutcracker syndrome can affect anyone at any age but is most common in adult females between 20 and 40. Children who are diagnosed with this condition often experience fewer symptoms than adults.

Some conditions may increase the chance of developing nutcracker syndrome, such as:

  • rapid growth during puberty
  • pancreatic tumors
  • tumors in the lining of your abdominal wall
  • a severe lower spine curve
  • low body mass index (BMI)
  • nephroptosis
  • an aneurysm in your abdominal aorta
  • rapid changes in height or weight
  • enlarged lymph nodes in your abdomen
  • pregnancy

It is important to note that nutcracker syndrome is not tied to genetics, so it cannot be inherited. 

The Dangers of Nutcracker Syndrome

If you or a loved one are experiencing signs or symptoms of nutcracker syndrome, it is essential to get a proper diagnosis so that the best treatment option for you can begin sooner.

Nutcracker syndrome can damage the left kidney if left untreated, leading to decreased kidney function and even kidney failure. When this occurs, the dangers of nutcracker syndrome include severe complications such as blood clots, pulmonary embolism, and even death.

Don’t delay treatment; your life could depend on it. 

Nutcracker Syndrome Treatment

The treatment of nutcracker syndrome depends on the severity of the symptoms and the extent of the compression of the left renal vein. 

Your personalized treatment plan may include one or more of the following:

Observation

If symptoms are mild, and there is no evidence of kidney damage, a "wait-and-see" approach may be recommended. However, regular monitoring and follow-up visits may be necessary to track symptoms or kidney function changes.

Medications

Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs can help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with Nutcracker syndrome. Blood thinners may also be prescribed to prevent the formation of blood clots.

Endovascular Procedures

Some cases of nutcracker syndrome may require the placement of a stent, a small tube-like device, in the left renal vein to improve blood flow and alleviate the compression. 

This minimally invasive procedure does not require long hospital stays or extended healing time.

Surgical Intervention

In the most severe cases, surgical intervention may be required.

There are several surgical techniques, including left renal vein transposition, which involves moving the renal vein to a new location to alleviate the compression, or laparoscopic or open partial nephrectomy, which involves removing part of the affected kidney.

Effective Nutcracker Syndrome Diagnosis and Treatment in Oklahoma

At CardioVascular Health Clinic, we pride ourselves on providing a wide range of minimally invasive treatment options for vascular and cardiovascular conditions like nutcracker syndrome.

If you or someone you love is experiencing new or worsening symptoms of nutcracker syndrome, we can help.

Schedule an appointment with one of our vascular experts to get the personalized and effective care you need now. 

Patient Resources

We’re committed to timely, efficient, and affordable care.
Here is a collection of useful resources our new and existing patients need in one convenient location.
Please let us know if you need additional information or have any questions.

Testimonials

I’m about one month out and things are so much better. At my two week evaluation my symptom score had gone from a 27 to a 7, and I’m sure it’s even better now. That speaks volumes. Now that I’m post recovery, there is no incontinence, I go to the bathroom much less and there are no ED side effects like there are with other procedures. In regard to my quality of life, well, I don’t maintain my life based on my proximity to a bathroom anymore.

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Blaine P., M.D.
Professional staff working in a beautiful facility with great doctors who sincerely care about their patients. Without Dr. Schmidt's skill, I would have needed heart bypass surgery instead of a stent. Follow-up has been thorough. I can't recommend them highly enough.
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LeAnn H.

Dr. Jim Melton and all the staff are fantastic. He is an excellent surgeon and his team is GREAT!!!! I just had surgery at the surgery center, I have only great things to say about my experience. Without him I really don't think I would be here to write this. If you’re looking for a good cardiovascular team, they are a 5 star for sure.

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Susie H.

Dr. Parsons and staff are amazing. He truly listened to me from the consult. Staff showed genuine care for my progress post procedure. I had my follow up appointment today so satisfied with results. Blake made me comfortable from the start. He is an activist for uterine fibroids treatment beyond the standard.

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Tamara M.

Professional and caring staff. Dr. Smith is very knowledgeable and shows genuine concern for your personal health. I enjoyed the background music in the procedure room, it really adds to the relaxing atmosphere.

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David L.

Dr. John Schrader is the most personable doctor we know. He stays on top of my dads health care and is genuinely concerned about his health. We never leave his office with questions. He answers them all. Even questions we don’t think of. Always professional but never cold or bad bedside manner. In our opinion he is THE BEST around.
Thank you Dr Schrader.

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Kathy J.

I came to Dr. Warren by a self referral for mals when it took me 8yrs 50+ doctors and thousands of dollars spent on no answers. My first visit I was scared I was just going to be gaslighted just like the past however I was pleasantly shocked when Dr. Warren immediately believed me. She took the time to review many disk I had brought from past tests. She never once dismissed me and listened to ever word I had to say. She scheduled one last test to confirm the diagnosis then I was scheduled for surgery right away. Surgery was a success and I can’t thank her and her staff enough. Dr. Warren truly saved my life.

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Angie W.

Dr. Garner literally saved my life 18 months ago and I've followed him to his new practice with Cardiovascular Health. He explains things so clearly, listens and is just a very nice person. His staff is great, too! I highly recommend!

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D Watts

Some of the nicest staff that I have ever dealt with!! They have been so incredibly awesome to my mom!! Would definitely recommend them to anyone!! Thank you so much for being so great with her!!

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Christy G.

The staff, the nurses, and Dr. Parsons were all amazing. Everything was simple and went well – very Bravo Zulu (military phrase meaning "well done"). In addition to the great staff at CardioVascular Health Clinic, the facilities were clean and well maintained. I have no complaints about anything. The whole experience was A1. I would recommend Dr. Parsons to anyone. He made a huge impact on my life.

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John W.

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