Shrapnel superior vena cava injury: Case report


Shrapnel injuries of the superior vena cava (SVC) are extremely rare and highly lethal. The true incidence is not known since many patients succumb shortly after injury. The high fatality is due to difficulty in diagnosis, technical problems with repair and consequences of SVC clamping. Literature review revealed no shrapnel SVC injury reported before. This is a report of 30-year-old man from Kirkuk, Iraq, a victim of terroristic attack who was admitted to Sulaimania Teaching Hospital (STH) on June 2007 with shock, massive right-side haemothorax and a wound at base of neck following a shrapnel injury. Emergency right thoracotomy revealed clotted haemothorax and big shrapnel partly sealing a tear in SVC just above the entrance of the azygos vein. Severe bleeding ensued after extraction of the shrapnel. Attempts to control the hemorrhage and repair of the injury failed and unfortunately, the patient expired in the theatre. Though there is no pathognomonic sign of SVC injury, it should be suspected in patients presenting with shock and haemothorax. Successful repair is achievable with early diagnosis, aggressive resuscitation, early exploration, optimum operating conditions and special measures such as auto-transfusion and cardiopulmonary bypass.

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Taha, A. (2014) Shrapnel superior vena cava injury: Case report. Case Reports in Clinical Medicine, 3, 85-88. doi: 10.4236/crcm.2014.32021.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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