Endovascular treatment of malignant superior vena cava syndrome: is bilateral wallstent placement superior to unilateral placement?

Hans-Peter Dinkel, Birgit Mettke, Felix Schmid, Iris Baumgartner, Jürgen Triller, Dai-Do Do
Journal of Endovascular Therapy 2003, 10 (4): 788-97

PURPOSE: To report our experience with unilateral versus bilateral stent placement in the treatment of malignant superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS).

METHODS: The records and films of 84 consecutive patients (69 men; mean age 64+/-10 years, range 39-79) referred for stent placement in malignant SVCS were reviewed for venous compromise, technical and clinical success, complications, and reocclusions. Wallstents were placed covering the SVC and both (bilateral technique) brachiocephalic veins (BCV) preferentially; unilateral stenting of only one BCV in addition to the SVC was performed based on operator preference or inability to access both sides. Technical success was defined as the ability to stent the SVC and at least one BCV; clinical success was the elimination of SVCS symptoms.

RESULTS: Technical success was achieved in 83 (99%) patients, using the unilateral technique in 22 and bilateral stenting in 61 patients. The groups did not differ with regard to age, sex, underlying diseases, or location and extent of venous compromise. Immediate clinical success was achieved in 20 (91%) of 22 patients in the unilateral group and 55 (90%) of 61 patients in the bilateral group. Two patients suffered late occlusion in the unilateral group, while in the bilateral group, 8 patients had early occlusion and 9 had late occlusion. Thus, the total occlusion rate was significantly (p<0.05) lower in the unilateral group. There was 1 other complication (pericardial tamponade) in the bilateral group, for a 28% total complication rate, which was significantly higher (p=0.039) than the 9% in the unilateral group. The 1, 3, 6, and 12-month primary stent patency rates were 90%, 81%, 76%, and 69%, respectively. Patency tended to last longer in the unilateral group, but the difference was not significant (p=0.11).

CONCLUSIONS: Although bilateral Wallstent placement achieved equal technical and clinical success, it tended to confer shorter-lived patency and caused more complications.

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