Superior vena cava syndrome during veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for COVID-19

Perfusion. 2021 Sep;36(6):630-633. doi: 10.1177/0267659120987973. Epub 2021 Jan 9.


Superior vena cava (SVC) syndrome is typically associated with malignant tumors obstructing the SVC, but as many as 40% of cases have other etiologies. SVC obstruction was previously described during veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy (VV ECMO) in children. In this report, we describe a woman with adult respiratory distress syndrome resulting from infection with coronavirus-19 who developed SVC syndrome during VV ECMO. A dual-lumen ECMO cannula was inserted in the right internal jugular vein, but insufficient ECMO circuit flow, upper body edema, and signs of hypovolemic shock were observed. This clinical picture resolved when the right internal jugular vein was decannulated in favor of bilateral femoral venous cannulae. Our report demonstrates that timely recognition of clinical signs and symptoms led to the appropriate diagnosis of an uncommon ECMO complication.

Keywords: COVID-19; SVC obstruction; acute respiratory distress syndrome; end stage renal disease; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; superior vena cava syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Superior Vena Cava Syndrome* / etiology
  • Superior Vena Cava Syndrome* / therapy
  • Vena Cava, Superior