Superior vena cava resection in thoracic malignancies: does prosthetic replacement pose a higher risk?

Francesco Leo, Roberto Bellini, Barbara Conti, Vincenzo Delledonne, Luca Tavecchio, Ugo Pastorino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: After superior vena cava (SVC) resection, the need for reconstruction varies among tangential resection, pericardial patch repair and prosthetic replacement. Patients undergoing complete prosthetic replacement often require a different surgical approach, intra-operative SVC cross-clamping and anticoagulation when polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) prosthesis is used. This study tested the hypothesis that PTFE replacement may interfere with perioperative outcome. Materials and methods: Clinical records from a series of 72 consecutive SVC resections performed between 1998 and 2008 were reviewed. Complications were classed into five categories: surgical, respiratory, cardiac, SVC system thrombosis and nerve damage. Each category of postoperative complications was considered as an outcome variable in a univariate analysis testing 12 covariates as risk factors. Covariates considered clinically relevant or statistically significant were included in the multivariate model. Results: During the considered period, 28 patients underwent total SVC resection with PTFE prosthetic replacement and 44 patients underwent SVC repair by the use of direct running suture (nine patients), stapling (30 patients) or autologous pericardial patch (five patients). Two patients died postoperatively (2.8%). Major complications were mainly due to respiratory failure, which occurred in nine cases (acute respiratory failure in five cases, recurrent atelectasis in three cases, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in one case). In terms of overall mortality and morbidity, univariate analysis did not confirm a detrimental effect of SVC replacement as compared with SVC repair, as major postoperative complications occurred in similar proportion in both groups (respectively, 6/28, 21.4% vs 7/44, 15.9%, p = 0.54). No other risk factor was identified by univariate analysis. Conclusions: Complete prosthetic replacement does not increase overall postoperative morbidity in patients undergoing SVC resection and can be safely performed when other reconstruction techniques preclude sufficient tumour-free resection margin or compromise adequate blood flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-769
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • Lung surgery
  • Mediastinum
  • Superior vena cava

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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