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Urology. 2003 Jan;61(1):89-92.

Long-term experience with management of renal cell carcinoma involving the inferior vena cava.

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  • 1Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.



To evaluate the long-term outcome and prognosis and influence of patient and tumor characteristics and therapeutic interventions on patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) extending to the inferior vena cava (IVC).


The data of 75 patients (51 men and 24 women; age range 27 to 92 years) with RCC and involvement of the IVC, including 49 without and 26 with metastatic disease, treated between July 1973 and December 1998 were reviewed. The clinical presentation, laboratory and imaging investigations, extent and level of caval involvement, operative details, and estimated blood loss, as well as the postoperative course, morbidity, and actuarial and disease-free survival were analyzed.


Seventy-five patients between 27 and 92 years old with RCC involving the IVC were studied. Of the 54 operative patients, 48 had no metastasis and 6 had metastatic disease; 32 had IVC tumor extension to the infrahepatic or low retrohepatic IVC, 7 had high intrahepatic IVC extension, and 15 had right atrial extension. In 7 patients, tumor had invaded the IVC wall. Partial IVC wall excision was done in 4 patients and resection of a complete segment of the IVC in 3 patients. Tube graft to replace a segment of the IVC was used in 2 patients. Patients with intracardiac extension were initially treated with cardiopulmonary bypass. Subsequently, profound hypothermia and circulatory arrest were also used. Three patients died in the postoperative period: two with and one without metastatic disease. The follow-up period ranged between 25 and 144 months. Of the 48 patients without evidence of metastasis at surgery, the perioperative mortality rate was 2%. Twenty-two patients (47%) were alive without evidence of metastases, 4% developed solitary metastasis, and 36% eventually developed multiple metastases.


Our long-term experience confirms that of other investigators that nonmetastatic RCC with extension into the IVC is a potentially curable condition provided complete removal can be achieved. The level of extension of the tumor thrombus dictates the surgical techniques used for successful removal of the tumor thrombus. The treatment of patients with caval involvement and metastatic disease at presentation needs to be carefully individualized. Those with extensive multiorgan metastases continued to do poorly irrespective of the therapeutic approach chosen.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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