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Incidentally diagnosed superior vena cava narrowing prompted by screening mammography
  1. Alexander M Satei,
  2. Tima F Tawil and
  3. Cory Z Trivax
  1. Diagnostic Radiology, Trinity Health Oakland Hospital/Wayne State University School of Medicine, Pontiac, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alexander M Satei; satei.alexander{at}


An adult woman with a prior history of treated non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma presented for screening mammography, which incidentally demonstrated dilated veins throughout the bilateral breasts. Concern for a superior vena cava stenosis or obstruction was raised despite the patient being asymptomatic; the patient underwent further imaging with chest CT, which revealed focal stenosis of the superior vena cava, attributed to fibrosis secondary to prior radiation therapy. Superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS), the spectrum of disease caused by superior vena cava narrowing or obstruction, requires prompt investigation given its association with intrathoracic malignancy, primary lung cancer and poor outcomes. This report explores the benign and malignant causes, signs and symptoms, preferred investigations, and treatment of SVCS. This case highlights the potential importance of screening mammography in revealing unexpected ancillary diagnoses, especially in high-risk patients.

  • Radiology
  • Screening (oncology)
  • Prevention

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  • Contributors The following authors were responsible for drafting of the text, sourcing and editing of clinical images, investigation results, drawing original diagrams and algorithms, and critical revision for important intellectual content: AMS, TFT and CZT. The following authors gave final approval of the manuscript: AMS, TFT and CZT.

  • 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.

  • Case reports provide a valuable learning resource for the scientific community and can indicate areas of interest for future research. They should not be used in isolation to guide treatment choices or public health policy.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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