Superior vena cava syndrome (SVC syndrome): a rare cause of conjunctival suffusion. Academic Article Case Study uri icon


  • Obstruction of blood flow in the superior vena cava results in the signs and symptoms of superior vena cava (SVC) syndrome. Venous collaterals form, to establish alternative pathways for return of venous blood to the right atrium. The rapidity of onset of symptoms and signs from SVC obstruction is directly related to the rate at which obstruction occurs and how effective the formed collaterals are. Lung cancer and lymphoma account for more than 90% of cases of SVC syndrome. Recognition of signs and symptoms allows us to make an early diagnosis. Facial swelling, distended veins over the neck, upper extremity swelling, and dyspnea are common findings. Proptosis, periorbital swelling (including eyelid), conjunctival suffusion and elevated intraocular pressure are documented ophthalmic findings in SVC syndrome. We present a rare case of conjunctival suffusion in a 72-year-old male diagnosed with superior vena cava syndrome secondary to lung cancer.

publication date

  • January 1, 2006