MHS1102 Anatomy and Physiology 2:Explain SVC Syndrome and its Causes



A 48-year-old man complains of swelling of the neck and shortness of breath for one week. He has noticed some nasal stuffiness with hoarseness of his voice for about 3 weeks and had attributed these symptoms to an upper respiratory infection. He denies the use of alcohol but has smoked two packs of cigarettes per day for 30 years. Lately, he feels as though something is pushing against his throat. On physical examination, the patient’s left pupil is constricted and the eyelid is drooping. His face appears ruddy and swollen and the skin is dry. The jugular veins are distended. He is diagnosed with superior vena cava (SVC) syndrome.

  1. Outline the function and location of the superior vena cava.
  1. Describe the boundaries and contents of the superior mediastinum.
  1. Explain SVC syndrome and its causes.
  1. Based on this man’s symptoms, what is the most likely cause of his diagnosis?
  1. Based on the patient’s group of symptoms, outline the other anatomical structures that are most likely involved.
  1. Explain why the man has a hoarse voice.
  1. Outline the cause of the dry facial skin, constricted pupil and drooping eyelid.

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