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September 1992

Superior Vena Cava Syndrome Associated With Lymphoma

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Thoracic Surgery (Drs Yellin and Lieberman) and Hematology (Drs Mandel, Rechavi, Neuman, and Ramot), The Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel, and the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel (Drs Yellin, Mandel, Rechavi, Neuman, Ramot, and Lieberman).

Am J Dis Child. 1992;146(9):1060-1063. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1992.02160210062022

• Objective.  —To evaluate the workup and treatment of children with lymphoma and superior vena cava syndrome.

Design.  —A retrospective survey.

Setting.  —State hospital serving as a secondary and tertiary referral center for pediatric oncology and pediatric cardiac surgery.

Participants.  —Eleven children aged 11 months to 12 years diagnosed as having lymphoma or T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia who presented with superior vena cava syndrome during an 11-year period.

Interventions.  —Lymph node biopsy (two patients), thoracenthesis (five patients), bone marrow aspiration (two patients), and thoracenthesis in addition to bone marrow aspiration (two patients). All aspirates were evaluated with immunohistochemical studies. Chemotherapy was the only management intervention.

Results.  —T-cell lymphoma or leukemia accounted for nine cases and Hodgkin's disease for two cases. Respiratory symptoms occurred in 10 patients, including tracheal compression in six patients (compression was life-threatening in one patient). Diagnosis of superior vena cava syndrome was achieved in eight patients using surface-marker analysis of aspirates. The syndrome disappeared within 2 to 10 days. Seven of nine children whose conditions were diagnosed more than 1 year before this writing were alive and free of disease after mean follow-up of 37 months.

Conclusions.  —(1) A specific diagnosis can be achieved in most children with superior vena cava syndrome and lymphoma; (2) Thoracic computed tomographic scans are essential, identifying minute pleural effusions that can aid diagnosis; (3) Anesthetic hazard is related only to severe tracheal compression; (4) Chemotherapy achieves excellent symptomatic relief; and (5) Long-term survival, without disease, is achievable.(AJDC. 1992;146:1060-1063)