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Open Access Research

Surgical treatment of malignant involvement of the inferior vena cava

Patrizio Castelli, Roberto Caronno, Gabriele Piffaretti*, Matteo Tozzi, Chiara Lomazzi, Gianlorenzo Dionigi, Luigi Boni and Renzo Dionigi

Author Affiliations

General Surgery-Department of Surgical Sciences, Insubria University Hospital, Versa, Italy

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International Seminars in Surgical Oncology 2006, 3:19  doi:10.1186/1477-7800-3-19

Published: 16 August 2006

Abstract

Background

Resection and replacement of the inferior vena cava to remove malignant disease is a formidable procedure. The purpose of this review is to describe our experience with regard to patient selection, operative technique, and early and late outcome.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed a 12-year series of 11 patients; there were 10 males, with a mean age 57 ± 13 years (range 27–72) who underwent caval thrombectomy and/or resection for primary (n = 9) or recurrent (n = 2) vena cava tumours. Tumour location and type, clinical presentation, the segment of vena cava treated, graft patency, and tumour recurrence and survival data were collected. Late follow-up data were available for all patients. Graft patency was determined before hospital discharge and in follow-up by CT scan or ultrasonography. More than 80% of patients had symptoms from their caval involvement. The most common pathologic diagnosis was renal cell carcinoma (n = 6), and hepatocarcinoma (n = 2). In all but 2 patients, inferior vena cava surgical treatment was associated with multivisceral resection, including extended nephrectomy (n = 5), resection of neoplastic mass (n = 3), major hepatic resection (n = 2), and adrenal gland resection (n = 1). Prosthetic repair was performed in 5 patients (45%).

Results

There were no early deaths. Major complications occurred in 1 patient (9%). Mean length of stay was 16 days. Late graft thrombosis or infection did not occur. The mean follow-up was 22.7 months (range 6–60). There have been no other late graft-related complications. All late deaths were caused by the progression of malignant disease and the actuarial survival rate was 100% at 1 year. Mean survival was 31 months (median 15).

Conclusion

Aggressive surgical management may offer the only chance for cure or palliation for patients with primary or secondary caval tumours. Our experience confirms that vena cava surgery for tumours may be performed safely with low graft-related morbidity and good patency in carefully selected patients.