Fatal brain swelling due to superior vena cava syndrome

Alejandro A. Rabinstein, Eelco F.M. Wijdicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Introduction: Brain swelling is an unusual complication of superior vena cava syndrome. It is unknown if the condition is reversible. Case: We present a 58 year old woman with metastatic colon carcinoma presenting with facial swelling and upper trunk ecchymosis, rapid onset of coma and extensor posturing on admission. CT showed diffuse cerebral edema and evolving parenchymal hypodensities. An occlusive thrombus at the site of an indwelling intravascular access was successfully removed with thrombectomy,but the patient progressed to brain death. Conclusion: This is the first case of fatal cerebral edema from a superior vena cava syndrome. The underlying malignancy may have induced a clotting disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-92
Number of pages2
JournalNeurocritical care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009


  • Brain edema
  • Coma
  • Superior vena cava syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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