Dermatologists should be alerted to the cutaneous manifestation of the superior vena cava syndrome. The clinical appearance of patients with this pulmonary disease may resemble that of angio-edema of the face, contact dermatitis, or allergic blepharitis. This subject is a patient who presented for the first time with marked facial edema, erythema of the eyelids, and a dilated band of blood vessels around his chest wall. There was swelling thickening and crusting of the eyelid margins. Gynecomastia was present bilaterally. Chest x-ray film disclosed changes consistent with bronchogenic carcinoma.
The pathophysiology of this disorder is that of obstruction of the superior vena cava with engorgement of the venous system drained by this vessel. The cause of this obstruction may be due to either benign or malignant disease, however, bronchogenic carcinoma is the first concern.
Swanson P, Schorr WF, Magnin GE, Dovenbarger W. Dermatologic Aspects of Superior Vena Cava Syndrome. Arch Dermatol. 1968;98(6):628-630. doi:10.1001/archderm.1968.01610180072009