What are the signs and symptoms of superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS)?

Updated: Mar 26, 2018
  • Author: Todd A Nickloes, DO, FACOS; Chief Editor: Vincent Lopez Rowe, MD  more...
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Early in the clinical course of superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS), partial obstruction of the superior vena cava (SVC) may be asymptomatic, but more often, minor symptoms and signs are overlooked.

As the syndrome advances toward total SVC obstruction, the classic symptoms and signs become more obvious. Dyspnea is the most common symptom, observed in 63% of patients with SVCS. [6, 19] Other symptoms include facial swelling, head fullness, cough, arm swelling, chest pain, dysphagia, orthopnea, distorted vision, hoarseness, stridor, headache, nasal stuffiness, nausea, pleural effusions, and light-headedness. [6, 19, 20]

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