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Clin Cardiol. 2005 Aug;28(8):362-6.

Echocardiography of the superior vena cava.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Memphis VA Medical Center, Memphis, Tennessee 38104, USA. khouzamrami@yahoo.com


The anatomy and applied echocardiographic anatomy of the superior vena cava (SVC) are briefly described. Right supraclavicular interrogation of the SVC has been in use for many years, but supraclavicular two-dimensional (2-D) imaging of the SVC has been virtually ignored. We have recently shown that supraclavicular 2-D imaging can provide excellent views of the SVC and its main tributaries. Transthoracic echocardiography (TEE) is suitable for imaging of the lower (juxtaatrial) SVC. Persistence of a left SVC is an uncommon variant, diagnosed echocardiographically by coronary sinus dilatation and passage of contrast into it from a left arm vein. Extensive SVC compression by mediastinal masses is well known, but recently intravascular SVC obstruction has been increasingly reported as a complication of radiofrequency ablation for ectopic atrial tachycardia, for thrombosis of the SVC or its main tributaries following indwelling catheters, or following insertion of pacemaker leads. Doppler interrogation or TEE imaging of the SVC have been used in recent years to elucidate such pathology.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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