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Apnea of prematurity
Acute respiratory distress syndrome
Pulmonary changes at high altitude and altitude sickness
Congenital pulmonary airway malformation
Superior vena cava syndrome
Meconium aspiration syndrome
Neonatal respiratory distress syndrome
Sudden infant death syndrome
Transient tachypnea of the newborn
Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
Restrictive lung diseases
Retropharyngeal and peritonsillar abscesses
Upper respiratory tract infection
Apnea, hypoventilation and pulmonary hypertension: Pathology review
Cystic fibrosis: Pathology review
Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism: Pathology review
Lung cancer and mesothelioma: Pathology review
Obstructive lung diseases: Pathology review
Pleural effusion, pneumothorax, hemothorax and atelectasis: Pathology review
Pneumonia: Pathology review
Respiratory distress syndrome: Pathology review
Restrictive lung diseases: Pathology review
Tuberculosis: Pathology review
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Superior Vena Cava Syndrome
superior vena cava syndrome p. 706
lung cancer p. 705
Pancoast tumor p. 706
Superior vena cava syndrome occurs when blood flow through the superior vena cava is obstructed either from within due to a blood clot or from external compression.
The superior vena cava is a short and wide vein on the right side of the chest that drains blood from the head, upper body and both arms, and delivers all of that blood to the right atrium of the heart.
The superior vena cava can get obstructed a few different ways, and the most common way is via a nearby tumor, through mass effect, where inflammation and swelling pushes up against the superior vena cava.
Alternatively, though, there can be direct tumor invasion into the superior vena cava which is when tumor cells penetrate and grow directly into the superior vena cava. But this is only possible if the tumor is located on the right side near the superior vena cava.
The most common type of cancer that does this is a lung cancer, and when it’s located in the apex of the right lung near the superior vena cava, it’s given the name Pancoast tumor - after Dr. Henry Pancoast who first described them.
Also in that area, though, you’ve got a bunch of lymph nodes, and another possible cause of SVC syndrome a tumor of the lymph nodes, which would could lead to compression of the SVC.
This could be lymphomas – or primary cancers of the lymph node - cause superior vena cava syndrome, or secondary and have spread from somewhere else, like the lungs.
Apart from tumors, the superior vena cava can also get obstructed if a blood clot or thrombosis forms within it. This most often develops in individuals who have a long-term device like an indwelling central venous catheter.
Regardless of the cause, when the superior vena cava gets obstructed, behind the obstruction you’ll get an increase in venous pressure.
Superior vena cava syndrome is a condition caused by blood flow obstruction in the superior vena cava, most commonly from a tumor causing external compression, but it can also be from thrombosis. Symptoms of SVCS include swelling of the face, neck, and chest; difficulty breathing; and a bluish discoloration of the skin. Treatment involves removing the cause of the blockage, but in the meantime, it's important to ensure that a person's head is kept above the level of the heart because gravity can help drain fluid from the head and neck back towards the heart.
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