JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Use of self-expanding vascular endoprostheses in superior vena cava syndrome.

INTRODUCTION: Superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS) is associated to a malignant tumor in more than 90% of cases; being the lung cancer the most frequent (80%). SVCS has a benign cause in less than 5% of cases. Endovascular stenting has been proposed as the primary treatment of choice. We report our experience in SVC recanalization through the use of self-expanding vascular stents as treatment of life-threatening SVCS of benign and malignant etiology.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Between January 1994 and April 2002 44 patients with critical SVCS, were treated at the Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires. Forty nine self-expanding endovascular metallic stents were percutaneously placed in the SVC. Thirty-one (70%) patients were male and 13 (30%) were female. The mean age was 55.6 years (range: 21-77). The etiology of SVCS was malignant in 40 cases and benign in 4. The malignant causes included lung cancer: 37 (37/44 - 92.5%), lymphoma: 1 (2.5%), chondrosarcoma 1 (2.5%), melanoma 1 (2.5%). The benign etiology corresponded to central catheters (N: 2) and post-radiation fibrosis (N: 2). Cavography showed complete occlusion of SVC in 12 cases (27%) and significant partial stenosis in 32 cases (73%). Thrombi associated with tumor stenosis were present in 25 (57%) patients.

RESULTS: All procedures were technically successful. No stent migration was observed. Thirty-two patients with malignant tumor ultimately died due to the progression of the disease. Mean survival time was 193 days (range: 25-578). SVCS recurrence was observed on six occasions. In four patients a new stent was placed. Symptomatic improvement was dramatically seen within 24-48 h after stent placement in 40 patients (90.9%) and 83.3% out of the cases (38/44) were symptoms-free during the rest of the disease. Three patients died in the 7 following days.

CONCLUSION: The use of self-expanding vascular endoprostheses in the recanalization treatment of SVC in SVCS due to a malignant or benign etiology offers excellent results with rapid and prolonged remission of symptoms.

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