Reconstruction of the superior vena cava: Benefits of postoperative surveillance and secondary endovascular interventions

Y. S. Alimi, P. Gloviczki, T. J. Vrtiska, P. C. Pairolero, L. G. Canton, T. C. Bower, S. Harmsen, Jr Hallett, Jr Cherry, A. W. Stanson, L. H. Hollier, J. D. Gruss, G. P. Clagett, L. R. Pickard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Purpose: Superior vena cava (svc) reconstructions are rarely performed; therefore the need for surveillance and the results of secondary interventions are unknown. Methods: During a 14-year period 19 patients (11 male, 8 female; mean age 41.9 years, range 8 to 69 years) underwent SVC reconstruction for symptomatic nonmalignant disease. Causes included mediastinal fibrosis (n = 12), indwelling foreign bodies (n = 4), idiopathic thrombosis (n = 2), and antithrombin III deficiency (n = 1). Spiral saphenous vein graft (n = 14), polytetrafluoroethylene (n = 4), or human allograft (n = 1) was implanted. Results: No early death or pulmonary embolism occurred. Four early graft stenoses or thromboses (spiral saphenous vein graft, n = 2, polytetrafluoroethylene n = 2) required thrombectomy, with success in three. During a mean follow-up of 49.5 months (range, 4.7 to 137 months), 95 imaging studies were performed (average, five per patient; range, one to 10 studies). Venography detected mild or moderate graft stenosis in seven patients; two progressed to severe stenosis. Two additional grafts developed early into severe stenosis. Four of 19 grafts occluded during follow-up (two polytetrafluoroethylene, two spiral saphenous vein graft). Computed tomography failed to identify stenosis in two grafts, magnetic resonance imaging failed to confirm one stenosis and one graft occlusion, and duplex scanning was inconclusive on graft patency in 10 patients. Angioplasty was performed in all four patients with severe stenosis, with simultaneous placement of Wallstents in two. One of the Wallstents occluded at 9 months. Repeat percutaneous transluminal angioplasty was necessary in two patients, with placement of Palmaz stents in one. Only one graft occlusion and one severe graft stenosis occurred beyond I year. The primary, primary-assisted, and secondary patency rates were 61%, 78%, and 83% at I year and 53%, 70%, and 74% at 5 years, respectively. Conclusion: Long-term secondary patency rates justify SVC grafting for benign disease. Postoperative surveillance with contrast venography is indicated in the first year to detect graft problems. Endovascular techniques may salvage and improve the patency of SVC grafts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-301
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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