Percutaneous treatment of superior vena cava obstruction following transvenous device implantation



The aim of this study is to assess the feasibility and safety of percutaneous treatment of superior vena cava (SVC) obstruction following transvenous device implantation. SVC obstruction is an uncommon but serious complication that can occur following permanent pacemaker or cardioverter defibrillator implantation utilizing transvenous endocardial leads. The treatment has traditionally been surgical but with the advent of stents, percutaneous approach is becoming popular. We report on the prevalence of SVC obstruction and the safety of its percutaneous catheter-based treatment. This is a retrospective study of SVC obstruction following device implantation in our institution from January 1993 through November 2003. A total of 1,850 permanent pacemaker and 1,200 implantable cardioverter defibrillator initial implants were performed during that period. Three patients developed SVC obstruction following implant (prevalence, 1/1,000 implant). Two patients were males and the mean age at implant was 57 ± 13 years. Laser lead extraction and SVC angioplasty with or without stenting were performed in all patients. In two of them, this was followed by reimplantation of new systems. There were no procedural complications or mortality. The patients remain free of SVC obstruction symptoms 24 ± 19 months after treatment. SVC obstruction prevalence after device implantation is low. Percutaneous treatment of SVC obstruction can be safely performed and appears to be effective in maintaining medium-term patency. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.