When was superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS) first discovered?

Updated: Mar 26, 2018
  • Author: Todd A Nickloes, DO, FACOS; Chief Editor: Vincent Lopez Rowe, MD  more...
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William Hunter first described the syndrome in 1757 in a patient with syphilitic aortic aneurysm. [1]  In 1954, Schechter reviewed 274 well-documented cases of SVCS reported in the literature; 40% of them were due to syphilitic aneurysms or tuberculous mediastinitis. [2]

Since the early reports, these infections have gradually decreased as the primary cause of SVC obstruction. Lung cancer is now the underlying process in approximately 70% of patients with SVCS. [3, 4, 5] However, as many as 40% of cases are attributable to nonmalignant causes. [1]

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