Background: The surgical management of renal tumours with thrombi in the inferior vena cava (IVC) has become the gold standard treatment.
Objective: To evaluate endoluminal occlusion of the IVC during radical nephrectomy with either retrohepatic (level II) or suprahepatic (level III) caval tumour thrombus.
Design, setting, and participants: From January 2000 to October 2007, 28 consecutive patients with renal cell carcinoma presenting a thrombus level II or III were treated with endoluminal occlusion of the free IVC cranial.
Surgical procedure: The occlusion balloon was positioned under transesophageal echography (TEE) control through a cavotomy performed at the level of the renal vein ostium. Thrombectomy and radical nephrectomy were then performed.
Measurements: Operative time, perioperative bleeding, and pre- and postoperative complications were assessed. Overall patient survival time, disease-free survival, and development of metastasis were assessed.
Results and limitations: Caval thrombectomy was performed successfully in all patients. IVC replacement with an expanded polytetrafluoroethylene graft or patch closure after lateral cavectomy was performed in 10 and 4 patients, respectively. Average operative time was 160 min (range: 120-210). There was no perioperative mortality. The complications were one splenectomy and one early thrombosis of the IVC. Mean length of follow-up was 22.1 mo (range: 3-90). There was no local or IVC tumour recurrence. Cause-specific death and metastasis occurred in six (21.4%) and nine patients (32.1%), respectively. Thirteen patients (46.4%) are disease-free.
Conclusions: Endoluminal occlusion of the IVC with TEE monitoring for level II and III thrombus avoided a suprahepatic or subdiaphragmatic approach of the IVC. Segmental resection and reconstruction of the IVC could also be performed in case of adherent thrombi.