Objectives: The increased use of central venous access primarily for hemodialysis has led to a significant increase in clinically relevant central venous occlusive disease (CVOD). The magnitude of and the optimal therapy for CVOD are not clearly established. The purpose of this study is to define the problem of CVOD and determine the success of percutaneous therapy for relieving symptoms and maintaining central venous patency.
Methods: Patients presenting with disabling upper-extremity edema suggestive of central venous stenosis or occlusion during a 3-year period were evaluated by venography of the upper extremity and central veins. Percutaneous venous angioplasty (PTA) and/or stent placement was performed as clinically indicated. The success of therapy was assessed, and the patients were observed to determine the incidence of recurrence and additional procedures. Recurrent lesions underwent similar evaluation and treatment.
Results: A total of 32 sides were treated in 29 patients with a mean of 1.9 interventions per side treated. Hemodialysis-related lesions were the underlying cause in 87% with the remaining 13% related to previous central venous catheterization. The lesions involved the axillary, subclavian, and innominate veins with complete venous occlusion in six (19%) cases. Percutaneous angioplasty was followed by stent placement in six (19%) cases. The procedure was a technical success and was performed without complications in all cases (100%). Mean follow-up was 16.5 months (range, 4-36 months). On average, patient symptoms were controlled for 6.5 months after the initial intervention. Recurrent edema led to additional PTA in 20 (63%) cases. Fifty percent (n = 14) of patients with an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) experienced recurrent symptoms after initial and/or repeat PTA and required AVF ligation. Complete resolution after the initial PTA was predictive of long-term success.
Conclusions: Central venous occlusive disease has emerged as a significant clinical problem. Percutaneous venous angioplasty can provide temporary symptomatic relief; however, multiple procedures are often required and long-term relief is rarely achieved.