Phleboliths are masses, deposits or growths which develop in the wall of a vein and are composed of calcium or lime. They are common in the pelvic area and are stationary and harmless; however, they can indicate the presence of more dangerous conditions or diseases. Most adults have phleboliths and are unaffected by them because they are symptomless. Their presence is usually only known after an individual has undergone X-ray imaging related to other health issues.
The pelvic area is the section of the body located at the base of the spine and surrounded by the hips. This area includes the bladder, genitals, prostate and other organs of the lower abdomen. In X-ray imaging, phleboliths appear as rounded white or light-coloured spots. They can be confused with bladder or kidney stones at first observation but can be distinguished from these stones by their translucent centres and circular or oval shape.
Medical specialists suggest that pelvic phleboliths develop in clots within pelvic veins that have been damaged from increased pressure caused by coughing or during the defecation process.
Phleboliths in the pelvic area can be shaped like ovals, circles or tubes and range in size from tiny specks to growths up to 1/2 inch in diameter.
According to the article “Relation Between Pelvic Phleboliths and Diverticular Disease of the Colon” published in the "American Journal of Roentgenology," there is a link between phleboliths and diverticular disease. Specifically, researchers suggest both develop after prolonged consumption of a low-fibre diet. Such diets contain large amounts of processed foods, meats, refined sugar and white flour.
Pelvic phleboliths are common in Western countries but are rarely heard of in nations where fresh foods, fruits and vegetables are the standard as opposed to diets full of processed foods containing numerous artificial additives and chemicals.
Prognosis When Diagnosed With Phleboliths
The presence of phleboliths can be a warning sign that more severe conditions, such as colorectal hemangiomas (benign tumours), are present in the body of young patients. The masses can also indicate that a patient has an enlarged bladder, rectal distension, stomach cancer or other tumours.
Considerations of Phleboliths
Although phleboliths do not move in and of themselves, they can be displaced and appear in different locations from X-ray to X-ray. This can alert a medical provider to the presence of a tumour which has either grown or decreased in size, causing the phlebolith to change position.