Superior Vena Cava Syndrome in Emergency Medicine Follow-up

Updated: Sep 19, 2016
  • Author: Michael S Beeson, MD, MBA, FACEP; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Total superior vena cava (SVC) obstruction is rare. Potential causes include indwelling catheters. Thrombolysis must be considered.

Airway compromise is unusual but may result from extrinsic compression of the superior vena cava or the trachea by the tumor mass.



Superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS) is associated with malignancy. The prognosis for relief of superior vena cava syndrome symptoms is good with radiation therapy. Symptoms usually decrease within 1 month of the onset of radiation therapy. However, the ultimate prognosis is associated with the underlying malignancy itself.

The prognosis for superior vena cava syndrome not associated with malignancy is excellent because most of these causes are infectious and respond to appropriate antibiotic therapy.

Recently, management of superior vena cava syndrome by internal jugular to femoral vein bypass has been described. [9] This may help improve symptoms of patients with malignancy.