Endoluminal occlusion of the inferior vena cava in renal cell carcinoma with retro- or suprahepatic caval thrombus

Laurent Zini, Stephan Haulon, Xavier Leroy, Decoene Christophe, Mohamed Koussa, Jacques Biserte, Arnauld Villers
BJU International 2006, 97 (6): 1216-20

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate endoluminal occlusion of the inferior vena cava (IVC) during surgical treatment of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) with either retrohepatic (level II) or suprahepatic (level III) caval tumour thrombus.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: From January 2000 to February 2005, 31 patients with renal vein/IVC involvement (T3b/c) of 278 who had a radical nephrectomy, were selected for review. Of these 31, 13 consecutive patients with RCC presenting a thrombus level II or III were prospectively treated with endoluminal occlusion of the free IVC cranial to the thrombus, to avoid dissection of the suprahepatic IVC or the subdiaphragmatic IVC. The occlusion balloon was positioned using transoesophageal echocardiography (TEE) control through a cavotomy at the ostium of the renal vein. Thrombectomy and radical nephrectomy were then performed. The operative duration, peri-operative bleeding, and complications during and after surgery were assessed. Overall patient survival time, disease-free survival and development of metastasis were calculated.

RESULTS: Caval thrombectomy was successful in all patients. The IVC needed to be replaced with an expanded polytetrafluoroethylene graft in three patients and a patch closure after lateral cavectomy was used in four. There was no case of air embolism. One case of asymptomatic tumour migration was detected during the procedure by TEE. The mean (sd) and median (range) operative duration was 170 (29) and 170 (120-210) min, and the mean number of units of packed red cells transfused during hospitalization was 5 (5) and 3 (0-16). There was no peri-operative mortality. The complications were one splenectomy and one early thrombosis of the IVC. The mean (range) follow-up was 22.1 (2-50) months. Distant metastases occurred in seven patients; there was no local or IVC tumour recurrence. Four patients died from metastatic progression and six are alive with no progression.

CONCLUSION: Endoluminal occlusion of the IVC with TEE monitoring for level II and III thrombus avoided a suprahepatic or subdiaphragmatic approach to the IVC. This technique caused no major complications and was very reliable, due to TEE monitoring. Segmental resection and reconstruction of the IVC could also be used for adherent thrombi.

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