Rep. Lauren BoebertShare on Pinterest
Congresswoman Lauren Boebert has been diagnosed with May-Thurner Syndrome following her hospitalization for a blood clot. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
  • Congresswoman Lauren Boebert has been diagnosed with May-Thurner syndrome, a vascular abnormality in the pelvis.
  • The discovery was made following her hospitalization for a blood clot.
  • Boebert has undergone surgery for the clot and is making a full recovery

United States Congresswoman Lauren Boebert has been diagnosed with May-Thurner syndrome, an uncommon vascular condition, after having a blood clot removed from her leg.

In May-Thurner syndrome, arteries in the pelvis become compressed, leading to blood flow problems and, potentially, blood clots in the left leg.

Boebert’s surgery was a success, and she is making a full recovery.

However, her ordeal has brought attention to a condition that may, in fact, be more widespread than previously believed.

According to a statement from Boebert’s campaign on April 3, the 37-year-old Congresswoman from Colorado was admitted to the UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies for “severe swelling in her upper left leg.”

Doctors identified an acute blood clot using a CT scan and subsequently diagnosed Boebert with May-Thurner syndrome. The following day she underwent surgery to remove the clot and insert a stent.

Although it’s unclear what the exact cause of the clot was, Boebert’s team cited “dehydration, travel, and extended periods of sitting” as potential factors.

“After taking time to rest as recommended by doctors, she is expected to make a full recovery with no significant concerns for her long-term health and no hindrance to her ability to perform her duties as a Congresswoman,” the statement said.

Lawrence “Rusty” Hofmann, MD, a Professor and Chief of Interventional Radiology at Stanford Medicine who has spent 20 years studying May-Thurner syndrome, told Healthline that what Boebert experienced is “pretty typical.”

“She presented with an acute deep venous thrombosis, and that is a blood clot that can occur in any of your deep veins in your arms, legs, or pelvis, and cause swelling and pain. That by itself is very rarely severely dangerous, but the real worry is that these clots can break off, go to your lung,” he said.

May-Thurner syndrome is a condition in which the right common iliac artery (the primary blood vessel carrying blood to the right leg) compresses the left iliac vein (the primary blood vessel carrying blood from the left leg to the heart), which can result in blood flow problems and blood clots.

It was first described in 1957 by its namesake, Dr. May and Dr. Thurner.

“It’s a normal variant in which they noticed that the artery that goes to the right leg compresses the vein to the left leg,” said Hofmann, “They defined it as when the vein is compressed by fifty percent.”

Hofmann calls it a “normal variant” because it is believed to be present in individuals without symptoms, who may go their whole lives without it becoming a serious health issue.

“If you have May-Thurner syndrome and no symptoms, you do not need any medicine or any procedures. It is just how you were ‘put together at the factory,’” he said.

Estimates vary on how common May-Thurner syndrome is, however, because it is often only diagnosed in association with deep vein thrombosis, as in the case of Boebert.

Some estimates indicate that one in five people experience iliac vein compression but don’t have a formal diagnosis of May-Thurner syndrome.

Other research puts the number between 14 and 32% of the general population.

While some may never have symptoms of May-Thurner syndrome, it can manifest through various symptoms, including:

  • Leg pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Skin discoloration
  • Leg ulcers
  • Enlarged veins

Of greater concern is the potential for deep-vein thrombosis, which is when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of the leg. Research indicates that May-Thurner syndrome may be responsible for between 2 and 5% of all deep vein thrombosis.

Symptoms of deep-vein thrombosis include:

  • Severe foot and ankle pain
  • Affected skin that feels warmer than the surrounding area
  • Leg cramps
  • Skin discoloration, turning pale, reddish, or bluish

Deep-vein thrombosis can lead to pulmonary embolism, a serious and potentially fatal condition in which the blood clot that has formed in the leg travels to the lungs.

“If you get a big blood clot, like the type that would kill you, you are going to know. It’s going to be, ‘Oh, my leg is almost twice the size of my other leg, and it hurts like crazy, and I need to go to the emergency room,’” said Hofmann.

May-Thurner syndrome may require no treatment at all unless it leads to deep vein thrombosis.

Doctors typically use imaging tools such as CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds to check for blood clots and compression.

If a patient is determined to have May-Thurner syndrome or an acute blood clot, they will determine a course of action.

Treatment may require hospitalization and surgery.

“The blood clot, if you don’t fix this properly, you’re at an increased risk for blood clots for life. What we do to treat this is we go in, and we use either drugs or a device to suck the blood clot out and clean up the vein,” said Hofmann.

To lower future risk of blood clots, blood-thinning medications are commonly prescribed. In some cases, a doctor may elect for a surgical procedure such as removal of the iliac artery or bypass surgery.

More commonly, to prevent future blood flow problems, doctors may insert a stent into the affected vein or artery.

“[A stent] is basically curative. I have patients that are twenty or twenty-five years out and have never had another blood clot. They are not on blood thinners, and they’re doing great,” said Hofmann.

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert has been diagnosed with May-Thurner syndrome, an uncommon vascular abnormality.

May-Thurner syndrome affects blood flow in the legs and can lead to more serious health problems, such as deep vein thrombosis.

Boebert received surgery to remove the blood clot and insert a stent. She is making a full recovery.