Rapid Fire: Superior Vena Cava Syndrome

Shelly Zimmerman, Matthew Davis
Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America 2018, 36 (3): 577-584
Superior vena cava syndrome occurs from obstruction of the superior vena cava. The most common cause is malignancy. Small cell lung cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are the most frequent culprits. Intravascular devices associated with thrombus are becoming more common causes. Classic symptoms include edema, plethora, and distended veins of the face, neck, and chest; shortness of breath; cough; headache; and hoarseness. Treatment in the emergency department is mostly supportive, with head elevation, oxygen, and steroids. Rarely, emergent airway issues and cerebral edema must be addressed. Definitive treatment includes radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and stenting.

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