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Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia

On-line version ISSN 1806-3756


CIRINO, Luís Marcelo Inaco; COELHO, Rafael Ferreira; ROCHA, Ivan Dias da  and  BATISTA, Bernardo Pinheiro de Senna Nogueira. Treatment of superior vena cava syndrome. J. bras. pneumol. [online]. 2005, vol.31, n.6, pp.540-550. ISSN 1806-3756.

The superior vena cava is formed by the union of the right and left brachiocephalic veins. It is located in the middle mediastinum, to the right of the aorta and anterior to the trachea. Superior vena cava syndrome consists of a group of signs (dilation of the veins in the neck, facial swelling, edema of the upper limbs, and cyanosis) and symptoms (headache, dyspnea, cough, orthopnea and dysphagia) caused by the obstruction of blood flow through the superior vena cava to the right atrium. This obstruction can be caused by extrinsic compression, tumor invasion or thrombosis. Such obstruction may also occur as a result of insufficient venous return secondary to intra-atrial or intraluminal diseases. From 73% to 93% of all cases of superior vena cava syndrome occur during the development of an intrathoracic tumor. Most patients presenting superior vena cava syndrome secondary to malignant neoplasms are treated without surgery, through radiotherapy, chemotherapy or the use of intraluminal stents. When the etiology of superior vena cava syndrome is benign, it can be treated with clinical measures (anticoagulation, raising the head, etc.) or, in refractory cases, with angioplasty, stents or surgery.

Keywords : Superior vena cava syndrome [therapy]; Superior vena cava syndrome [surgery]; Superior vena cava syndrome [etiology]; Superior vena cava syndrome [drug therapy]; Superior vena cava syndrome [radiotherapy]; Superior vena cava.

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