Management of inferior vena cava tumor thrombus in locally advanced renal cell carcinoma

Sarah P. Psutka, Bradley C. Leibovich

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma is accompanied by intravascular tumor thrombus in up to 10% of cases, of which nearly one-third of patients also have concurrent metastatic disease. Surgical resection in the form of radical nephrectomy and caval thrombectomy represents the only option to obtain local control of the disease and is associated with durable oncologic control in approximately half of these patients. The objective of this clinical review is to outline the preoperative evaluation for, and operative management of patients with locally advanced renal cell carcinoma with venous tumor thrombi involving the inferior vena cava. Cornerstones of the management of these complex patients include obtaining high-quality imaging to characterize the renal mass and tumor thrombus preoperatively, with further intraoperative real-time evaluation using transesophageal echocardiography, careful surgical planning, and a multidisciplinary approach. Operative management of patients with high-level caval thrombi should be undertaken in high-volume centers by surgical teams with capacity for bypass and invasive intraoperative monitoring. In patients with metastatic disease at presentation, cytoreductive nephrectomy and tumor thrombectomy may be safely performed with simultaneous metastasectomy if possible. In the absence of level one evidence, neoadjuvant targeted therapy should continue to be viewed as experimental and should be employed under the auspices of a clinical trial. However, in patients with significant risk factors for postoperative complications and mortality, and especially in those with metastatic disease, consultation with medical oncology and frontline targeted therapy may be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-229
Number of pages14
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2015


  • metastasis
  • preoperative imaging
  • renal cell carcinoma
  • tumor thrombectomy
  • vascular reconstruction
  • vascular resection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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