Brachiocephalic vein compression caused by a mediastinal cystic tumor presenting with rapidly progressive upper limb swelling and pain in a patient on hemodialysis with a newly created arteriovenous graft

  • Sahomi Yamaguchi
  • Shunsuke Yamada
  • Manako Takesako
  • Toshiaki NakanoEmail author
  • Takanari Kitazono
Letter to the Editor


A 61-year-old man was hospitalized for creating vascular access for maintenance hemodialysis. Chronic interstitial nephritis was the cause of his end-stage kidney disease. An arteriovenous graft (AVG) was selected because superficial veins in his bilateral upper limbs were not suitable for arteriovenous fistula (AVF). Venography did not show any stenotic lesions in the drainage veins bilaterally. Soon after creation of the AVG, his left arm began to swell. Obstruction of the drainage vessels downstream of the AVG was highly suspected. Magnetic resonance imaging disclosed that the left brachiocephalic vein was compressed at the junction of the superior vena cava by a mediastinal cystic tumor. This tumor was 15 mm in diameter and was tentatively diagnosed as a bronchogenic cyst. While initiating hemodialysis using the AVG, the patient’s body weight was decreased by the extracorporeal ultrafiltration method, followed by amelioration of swelling in the left arm. Because the swelling and pain of his left upper limb gradually subsided, we finally decided not to close the AVG and continued hemodialysis using the left AVG. He is currently on maintenance hemodialysis for 3 months with a slightly swollen left upper limb. Central venous obstruction or compression is one of the major causes of ipsilateral limb swelling in patients on hemodialysis. Central venous stenosis caused by previous central catheter insertion is often involved. Our case emphasizes the importance of searching for potential anatomical obstruction of drainage vessels by mediastinal tumors as a potential cause of venous hypertension in hemodialysis patients.



We thank Ellen Knapp, PhD, from Edanz Group ( for editing a draft of this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists.

Human and animal rights

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Written informed consent for submitting this case report was obtained by the patient.


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Copyright information

© Japanese Society of Nephrology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine and Clinical Science, Graduate School of Medical SciencesKyushu UniversityFukuokaJapan

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