JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Superior vena cava syndrome in thoracic malignancies

Philipp M Lepper, Sebastian R Ott, Hanno Hoppe, Christian Schumann, Uz Stammberger, Antonio Bugalho, Steffen Frese, Michael Schmücking, Norbert M Blumstein, Nicolas Diehm, Robert Bals, Jürg Hamacher
Respiratory Care 2011, 56 (5): 653-66
21276318
The superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS) comprises various symptoms due to occlusion of the SVC, which can be easily obstructed by pathological conditions (eg, lung cancer, due to the low internal venous pressure within rigid structures of the thorax [trachea, right bronchus, aorta]). The resulting increased venous pressure in the upper body may cause edema of the head, neck, and upper extremities, often associated with cyanosis, plethora, and distended subcutaneous vessels. Despite the often striking clinical presentation, SVCS itself is usually not a life-threatening condition. Currently, randomized controlled trials on many clinically important aspects of SVCS are lacking. This review gives an interdisciplinary overview of the pathophysiology, etiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of malignant SVCS.

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