Background: Retroperitoneal fibrosis can compress ureters, nerves, and blood vessels in the abdomen. However, clinically significant large-vein obstruction secondary to this process is rare.
Methods: Three hundred forty patients with retroperitoneal fibrosis were treated at our institution between 1976 and 1993. The clinical data from seven of these patients, who were treated for iliocaval complications of retroperitoneal fibrosis, were reviewed.
Results: Six patients had signs and symptoms of chronic obstruction, and one patient presented with acute iliocaval thrombosis and underwent attempt at venous thrombectomy in the referring hospital. All patients exhibited extremity edema and three had venous claudication. Iliocaval occlusion was confirmed in all patients by venography, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging. The obstructive process involved the iliocaval tree (four patients), the inferior vena cava alone (two patients), and the iliac vein alone (one patient). Five patients were managed conservatively with leg elevation, compression stockings, and anticoagulation. Two patients received prednisone. One patient underwent an iliocaval bypass from the external iliac vein to the juxtarenal cava using a ringed polytetrafluoroethylene graft with a femoral arteriovenous fistula. A second patient with an isolated left common iliac vein obstruction underwent a left-to-right femorofemoral saphenous vein bypass. Four patients treated conservatively continued to have extremity edema. The two patients managed surgically remain asymptomatic from venous insufficiency, with patent grafts at 25 and 12 months after surgery, respectively.
Conclusion: Iliocaval obstruction is an unusual complication of retroperitoneal fibrosis. Although most cases can be managed conservatively, reconstruction is an option for patients who have failed medical treatment and are symptomatic secondary to chronic venous obstruction. Lifelong anticoagulation should be considered for all patients with progressive iliocaval obstruction secondary to retroperitoneal fibrosis.