Superior Vena Cava Syndrome


  • A syndrome of dyspnea, headache, swelling of the face, neck and upper limbs should alert to this possible diagnosis. Occurs as a result of compression or obstruction of the superior vena cava
  • Can sometimes be life threatening but usually occurs with a gradual increase in signs and symptoms


(see Foreword)

  • Chest X Ray or CT Scan will aid diagnosis


  • Dexamethasone should be used in the short term
  • Radiotherapy may help with tumour causing external compression

Consider if patient is well enough to benefit


  • Tends to occur late in the disease trajectory of children


  • May also be caused by thrombus around a subclavian arterial catheter

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