Superior vena cava occlusion and/or syndrome related to pacemaker leads

Am Heart J. 1993 Mar;125(3):831-7. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(93)90178-c.


Four cases of pacemaker-related SVC obstruction or syndrome are reported. While two of them lacked any symptom suggestive of SVC obstruction, the other two presented with mild symptoms. None of them received any treatment. One died from a cause unrelated to SVC obstruction, while the others presented no change in their clinical status. A review of the literature suggests that neither thrombotic nor fibrotic obstruction in patients with pacemaker leads is strictly related to the number of abandoned leads, the presence of severed leads, or the time elapsing from pacemaker implant. The diagnosis is clinically made and is confirmed by venography. Only one of the reported deaths is attributable to SVC obstruction. The remaining cases from the literature responded to treatment with heparin, thrombolytic agents, angioplasty, or surgery.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Electrodes, Implanted / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Fibrosis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pacemaker, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / epidemiology
  • Superior Vena Cava Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Superior Vena Cava Syndrome / etiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Vena Cava, Superior / pathology