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The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2007 June;48(3):363-8


lingua: Inglese

Prosthetic replacement and tangential resection of the superior vena cava in chest tumors

Politi L. 1, Crisci C. 1, Montinaro F. 1, Andreani M. 1, Podzemny V. 1, Borzellino G. 2

1 Thoracic Surgery Unit Department of Medical-Surgical Critical Area Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Careggi, Florence, Italy 2 Department of General Surgery Hospital of Verona, Verona, Italy


Aim. Infiltration of the superior vena cava (SVC) due to advanced non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or thymoma can be treated by prosthetic replacement or tangential resection. These two technical procedures and their results are described.
Methods. From 1988 to 2002, we performed 37 SVC resections: 21 replacements with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) prostheses and 16 tangential exereses. Sixteen patients affected by locally advanced NSCLC (12 T4; 4 extracapsular N2) and 5 subjects with thymoma (Stage III Masaoka) underwent prosthetic replacement of the SVC. After neoadjuvant polychemotherapy, tangential resection was performed on 12 patients with extracapsular N2 NSCLC, and in 1 patient with T4 and in 3 patients with T3a disease. We performed prosthetic replacement in 18 cases using a straight prosthesis (?18-20 mm). A bridge (10-14 cm) between the innominate vein and the right atrium was created in 3 patients. The main indication for a prosthetic replacement was infiltration of more than 30% of the circumference of the SVC. There were 4 thromboembolic complications (19%), with one intraoperative death (4.8%). Tangential resection of the SVC for infiltration <20% was performed both manually and with staplers (double clamping) without any major complications.
Results. Mean survival was 23 months in those patients who had undergone PTFE replacement for T4 lung cancer and for thymoma. Mean survival was 15 months in those who had undergone tangential resections for NSCLC with extracapsular N2. We performed restaging of the tumor using chest angio-CT scan in 11 patients, one year after the operation. We found 80% patency in 7 SVC prostheses and 50% patency in 4 others: the two bridges between the left innominate vein and the right atrium appeared to be partially closed but were compensated by important collateral circles.
Conclusion. SVC replacement, associated with pulmonary resection or removal of mediastinal masses, can be performed in selected cases. It should not be considered as palliative treatment because of the important perioperative risks. SVC tangential resection involves fewer surgical problems. However, since this procedure is used mostly for N2 NSCLC subjects, patients have a low mean survival in spite of adjuvant therapy.

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