JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Video-assisted mediastinoscopy in superior vena cava obstruction: to fear or not to fear?

INTRODUCTION: We investigate the safety and efficacy of video-assisted mediastinoscopy (VAM) used for diagnosis of the superior vena cava syndrome.

METHODS: In a 7-year period, we have done 447 VAM for malignant causes. We have compared, in a retrospective study from a prospectively maintained database, the differences between the groups with (first group) or without (second group) superior vena cava syndrome in terms of operative time, preoperative and postoperative complications, and results of pathologic examination. Statistical differences between the groups were calculated by χ2 test.

RESULTS: Mean operative time for first (31 patients) and second (416 patients) groups was 18 and 34 minutes, respectively (p < 0.00). Mean hospital stay was 1.2 days in both the groups. Mortality rates for the first and second groups were 0 and 0.5% (p = 0.31); major morbidity rates were 0 and 0.7% (p = 0.50); and minor morbidity rates were 6.4 and 1.7% (p = 0.27), respectively. In the superior vena cava syndrome group, most of the lymph nodes biopsied were in paratracheal superior sites (81%); histology showed small cell lung cancer in 51.6%, non-small cell lung cancer in 25.8%, and lymphoma in 22.6%.

CONCLUSIONS: VAM represents an important diagnostic tool in superior vena cava syndrome. Once decided to be used, we think that video technique is a good option with high rate of efficacy and low rates of mortality and morbidity.

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