What is characteristic of superior vena cava (SVC) obstruction?

Updated: Mar 26, 2018
  • Author: Todd A Nickloes, DO, FACOS; Chief Editor: Vincent Lopez Rowe, MD  more...
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Answer

Obstruction of the SVC may be caused by neoplastic invasion of the venous wall associated with intravascular thrombosis or, more simply, by extrinsic pressure of a tumor mass against the relatively thin-walled SVC. Complete SVC obstruction is the result of intravascular thrombosis in combination with extrinsic pressure. Incomplete SVC obstruction is more often secondary to extrinsic pressure without thrombosis. Other causes include compression by intravascular arterial devices. The incidence is on the rise, in line with the increased use of endovascular devices. [4]


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