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Multiple thromboembolic events associated with bilateral superior vena cava and anomalous drainage into the left atrium
  1. Maria Elizabeth Karavassilis1,
  2. Michael Haji-Coll2 and
  3. Niall G Keenan3
  1. 1Intensive Care Unit, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Watford, UK
  2. 2Stroke Medicine, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Watford, Hertfordshire, UK
  3. 3Cardiology, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Watford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Maria Elizabeth Karavassilis; maria.karavassilis{at}


A 49-year-old female patient presented with acute-on-chronic chest pain. She was diagnosed with multiple systemic thromboemboli, including myocardial infarctions, bilateral chronic pulmonary emboli, ischaemic stroke, deep venous thrombosis and superficial thrombophlebitis. She had a background of sickle cell trait. Cardiac magnetic resonance showed bilateral superior vena cava (SVC). The right-sided SVC (RSVC) was joined by the right upper pulmonary vein and drained anomalously into the left atrium. This caused a small volume right to left shunt. The persistent left SVC drained into the right atrium (RA) via a dilated coronary sinus. The overall clinical impression was recurrent paradoxical emboli due to anomalous venous anatomy with a thrombophilia secondary to sickle cell trait. In the normal embryo, the right common cardinal vein develops to become the RSVC, which drains into the RA by term.

  • venous thromboembolism
  • clinical diagnostic tests
  • radiology (diagnostics)
  • haematology (incl blood transfusion)
  • radiology

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  • Contributors MEK drafted the case report and the discussion and revised the manuscript; MEK helped edit the figures and consented the patient. NK has supervised the case report write up. NK diagnosed the patient’s anatomy on cardiac MRI, and revised, edited and drafted the case report, and created the figures and annotations. MH-C has helped draft and has revised the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.