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Table of Contents
CASE REPORT
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 15-17  

Anomalous left-sided superior vena cava with cephalad flow


1 Division of Cardiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
2 Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
3 Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, San Juan, PR, USA

Date of Web Publication15-May-2017

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Angel López-Candales
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, Medical Sciences Building, PO Box 365067, San Juan 00936-5067, Puerto Rico
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1995-705X.206199

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   Abstract 

The case of a 24-year-old male with complaints of migraine headaches was referred for echocardiography. The rest of medical history was unremarkable. Agitated saline contrast bubble study showed evidence of a right to left intracardiac shunt, probably secondary to a patent foramen ovale. Results of a transesophageal echocardiogram suggested the possibility of an anomalous venous circulation and eventually identified as anomalous left-sided superior vena cava with cardiac magnetic resonance imaging.

Keywords: Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, echocardiography, left superior vena cava, migraines


How to cite this article:
Ramani GV, Deible C, López-Candales A. Anomalous left-sided superior vena cava with cephalad flow. Heart Views 2017;18:15-7

How to cite this URL:
Ramani GV, Deible C, López-Candales A. Anomalous left-sided superior vena cava with cephalad flow. Heart Views [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Sep 21];18:15-7. Available from: https://www.heartviews.org/text.asp?2017/18/1/15/206199


   Introduction Top


In this case report, a patient with complaints of migraine headaches was referred for echocardiography. Agitated saline contrast bubble study revealed the presence of a right to left intracardiac shunt. On transesophageal echocardiography an intact interatrial septum was identified. However, contrast bubbles were seen in the left atria arising from the left superior pulmonary vein after injection of agitated saline from the patient's left arm, a finding not noted upon injection into the right arm.

We describe the thorough evaluation that demonstrated the presence of an anomalous left-sided vena cava with cephalad flow.


   Case Report Top


A 24-year-old male with an unremarkable medical history is referred for echocardiography with complaints of migraine headaches, and although normal cavity dimensions, biventricular and valvular functions were noted, agitated saline contrast bubble study showed evidence of a right to left intracardiac shunt, probably secondary to a patent foramen ovale(PFO)[Figure1].
Figure 1: Transthoracic echocardiogram demonstrating rapid presence of agitated saline bubbles in the left ventricle (arrows), suggesting intracardiac right to left shunt. RV: Right ventricle, LV: Left ventricle, RA: Right arm, LA: Left arm

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Transesophageal echocardiography was then performed but failed to show any evidence for either a PFO or an atrial septal defect(ASD). However, contrast bubbles were seen in the left atria after injection of agitated saline from the patient's left arm. On closer inspection, the bubbles seemed to arise from the left superior pulmonary vein, a finding that was not noted upon injection into the right arm on the previous study. These findings strongly suggested anomalous venous circulation of the thoracic vessels[Figure2].
Figure 2: Transesophageal echocardiogram demonstrating rapid presence of agitated saline bubbles in left upper pulmonary vein. LA: Left arm, LUPV: Left upper pulmonary vein

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Cardiac computed tomography demonstrated a structure parallel to the aorta, coursing from the left upper pulmonary vein(LUPV) toward the left subclavian vein, suggesting either a left-sided superior vena cava(SVC) or less likely a partial anomalous pulmonary vein[Figure3]. Subsequent cardiac magnetic resonance with phase contrast cardiac imaging was then performed which demonstrated cephalad blood flow within structure[Figure4]. This finding most likely represents a left-sided SVC despite the highly unusual cephalad blood flow and the caudal attachment to LUPV.
Figure 3: Computed tomography angiogram demonstrating anomalous connection between the left upper pulmonary vein and the left subclavian vein (arrow). SVC: Superior vena cava, AAo: Ascending aorta

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Figure 4: Static magnetic resonance phase contrast imaging demonstrating black (cephalad) flow in the accessory structure lateral to the descending aorta (arrow). SVC: Superior vena cava, AAo: Ascending aorta, DAo: Descending aorta

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   Discussion Top


Approximately 2% of patients demonstrate abnormalities of the major thoracic venous vessels in the absence of otherwise significant structural heart disease.[1] Interestingly, both left-sided SVC and partial anomalous pulmonary venous return occur in a frequency of approximately 0.2–0.6%. These entities are often confused as they both appear on routine imaging as an accessory structure lateral and parallel to the aortic arch.

Although a left-sided SVC will typically terminate in the coronary sinus owing to its embryology as a left common cardinal vein remnant, caudal attachments to the left atrium have been described.[2] Typically, the left-sided SVC demonstrates caudal flow and the anomalous pulmonary vein will demonstrate cephalad flow.[3] Partial anomalous pulmonary venous drainage is frequently associated with other congenital heart disease, most commonly an ASD, in 70% of patients.[4] Typically, both of these conditions are incidental findings detected during radiography or during central venous line or device placement.

The relationship between patient's anatomy and his chief complaint of migraine headaches remains unclear.

In summary, even though a left-sided SVC will typically terminate in the coronary sinus owing to its embryology as a left common cardinal vein remnant, caudal attachments to the left atrium demonstrating caudal flow and the anomalous pulmonary vein will demonstrate cephalad flow. However, this case illustrates an anomalous left-sided vena cava with cephalad flow. Since both these entities are often confused as they both appear on routine imaging as an accessory structure lateral and parallel to the aortic arch, we want to bring to the attention of clinicians involved with cardiac imaging interpretation an unusual case.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
   References Top

1.
Healey JE Jr. An anatomic survey of anomalous pulmonary veins: Their clinical significance. JThorac Surg 1952;23:433-44.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]    
2.
CormierMG, YedlickaJW, GrayRJ, MoncadaR. Congenital anomalies of the superior vena cava: A CT study. Semin Roentgenol 1989;24:77-83.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]    
3.
DillonEH, CamputaroC. Partial anomalous pulmonary venous drainage of the left upper lobe vs. duplication of the superior vena cava: Distinction based on CT findings. AJR Am J Roentgenol 1993;160:375-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
[PUBMED]    
4.
AmmashNM, SewardJB, WarnesCA, ConnollyHM, O'LearyPW, DanielsonGK. Partial anomalous pulmonary venous connection: Diagnosis by transesophageal echocardiography. JAm Coll Cardiol 1997;29:1351-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
    


    Figures

  [Figure1], [Figure2], [Figure3], [Figure4]



 

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