What are the management options for 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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Answer

In the management of superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS), the goals are to relieve symptoms and to attempt cure of the primary malignant process. Only a small percentage of patients with rapid-onset obstruction of the superior vena cava (SVC) are at risk for life-threatening complications. [12]

Patients with clinical SVCS often gain significant symptomatic improvement from conservative treatment measures, including elevation of the head of the bed and supplemental oxygen. [22] Emergency treatment is indicated when brain edema, decreased cardiac output, or upper airway edema is present. Corticosteroids and diuretics are often used to relieve laryngeal or cerebral edema, although documentation of their efficacy is questionable.


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