The incidence of superior vena cava (SVC) obstruction associated with non-malignant diseases is on the rise, and a large percentage of these patients are on hemodialysis (HD). The objective was to characterize the presentation, symptoms and outcomes of HD patients with SVC obstruction identified on computerized tomography (CT) compared to patients with other etiologies such as neoplasm. A search was performed through the PACS system using key words to identify patients with SVC obstruction. The CT scans and charts were reviewed for degree of obstruction, signs, symptoms and outcomes. Thirty-six patients were included in the study. Thirteen were on HD and of these, five had symptoms associated with SVC obstruction and one had concordant findings on physical exam. In comparison, thirteen patients with a chest neoplasm had symptoms and four had concordant findings on physical exam. On follow up, 31% of the HD patients died and of these 60% were symptomatic and died within 2 years. 29% of lung cancer patients died within 16 months. The majority of the HD patients had complete SVC obstruction (85%) as opposed to those with a chest neoplasm who mostly had partial SVC occlusion (67%). In conclusion, patients on HD with SVC obstruction are less often symptomatic than those with a neoplasm. However, these HD patients had a death rate similar to the patients with cancer. This risk seems to increase in those who are symptomatic. Diagnosis of SVC obstruction by CT in HD patients may help identify those with less favorable prognosis.
- Computerized tomography
- Hemodialysis patients
- Superior vena cava obstruction
- Superior vena cava syndrome
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