Vena Cava Compression Syndrome

By | June 10, 2022

Vena cava compression syndrome occurs mainly in pregnant women. Changes in the uterus put pressure on the vena cava. The restricted return of blood to the heart causes circulatory problems of varying severity. Outside of pregnancy, vena cava compression syndrome is a sign of an abdominal mass.

What is Vena Cava Compression Syndrome?

In vena cava compression syndrome, the free flow of blood from the legs back to the heart is impeded. Pregnant women in particular suffer from this because the expanding uterus and the weight of the child press on the inferior vena cava. It runs on the right side of the body behind the uterus. For laryngeal paralysis meaning, please visit

In a supine position, the entire weight of the uterus presses on the vein and compresses it. The result is vena cava compression syndrome, which the pregnant woman experiences as a circulatory disorder of varying severity. Pregnant women are mainly affected, but the circulatory disorder, also known as hypertensive syndrome, is also possible in non-pregnant women and men.

The vena cava compression syndrome is then an indication that there may be abnormal tissue enlargement in the abdomen, which builds up a pressure similar to the vena cava compression syndrome in a pregnant woman.


Vena cava compression syndrome is a circulatory disorder caused by mechanical pressure. It originates from the inferior vena cava. This is the inferior vena cava, which is a large blood vessel that receives blood flow from the lower extremities.

It runs on the right side of the body behind the uterus, which normally has no influence on the vena cava when lying on your back. Vena cava compression syndrome only occurs in some pregnant women in this lying position if they enlarge and gain weight during pregnancy.

The weight is then sufficient to compress the artery. Blood flow to the heart decreases. With vena cava compression syndrome, there is no longer enough blood to be transported to the lungs and other parts of the body.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Vena cava compression syndrome is characterized by, among other things, a sudden drop in blood pressure, profuse sweating, dizziness, cold sweats, nausea, pallor, and impaired consciousness. The disturbances in consciousness can lead to unconsciousness. Furthermore, edema in the legs is often observed. In some cases, tachycardia occurs.

Later, a slow heartbeat is often possible. In addition, some patients suffer from shortness of breath. However, not all symptoms are always present. Since blood circulation is poor, the unborn child can also be affected. The fetus is then no longer supplied with sufficient oxygen. In extreme cases, this can lead to the child dying in the mother’s womb as part of the mother’s circulatory shock.

However, life-threatening complications are very rare for both the mother and the child with an inferior vena cava compression syndrome. When the upper jugular veins are affected by vena cava compression syndrome, congestion of the jugular veins is the main cause. Sometimes, however, the veins also protrude on the arms and head.

Those affected then often suffer from headaches. If the swelling or tumor presses on other organs, other symptoms can also occur. If the pressure is on the trachea, breathing problems come to the fore. When the esophagus is affected, the main cause is difficulty swallowing. Without treatment, the symptoms of superior vena cava compression syndrome often worsen.

Diagnosis & History

A vena cava compression syndrome is usually already recognizable for a pregnant woman. The special connection with the lying position on the back is very typical. The clarification by the attending gynecologist is usually carried out by precisely asking about the situation in which the symptoms of the vena cava compression syndrome occur.

The diagnosis in other groups of people is more extensive, since the triggering masses have to be determined more precisely here. This absolutely requires the use of imaging methods. Vena cava compression syndrome requires a response from those affected by a quick change of position. The body only reacts initially with dizziness and shortness of breath.

If the interruption in blood flow is not remedied, the circulatory disorders worsen. Consequences of the vena cava compression syndrome are unconsciousness up to cardiac arrest and endangerment of the unborn child due to the lack of oxygen supply.


In the worst case, the vena cava compression syndrome can lead to the death of the patient. This usually occurs only if the condition is not treated. Those affected suffer from this syndrome from severe dizziness and nausea.

Circulatory problems and fainting spells can also occur and have a very negative effect on the quality of life of those affected. Many patients injure themselves when they lose consciousness because of a fall. Furthermore, the vena cava compression syndrome leads to tachycardia, whereby the affected person can also suffer a heart attack. Shortness of breath and a significantly reduced resilience also occur and significantly restrict the patient’s everyday life.

If the vena cava compression syndrome occurs in childhood, there will be considerable limitations in the child’s development. As a result, those affected often suffer from severe limitations and complications in adulthood. Vena cava compression syndrome symptoms can usually be cured. There are no complications. Surgical interventions are only necessary in some cases. Most often, with early diagnosis and treatment of the syndrome, the life expectancy of the patient is not negatively affected.

When should you go to the doctor?

In the case of vena cava compression syndrome, the person affected should usually always see a doctor. This disease cannot heal on its own, so treatment must always be carried out. Early diagnosis always has a very positive effect on the further course of the disease.

A doctor should be contacted if the sufferer suffers from profuse sweating and persistent dizziness. In some cases, this can even lead to a complete loss of consciousness, in which case an ambulance should be called. Furthermore, severe shortness of breath or tachycardia can indicate the syndrome. Those affected often suffer from headaches or even swelling in the head. Difficulty swallowing can also indicate vena cava compression syndrome if it occurs over a longer period of time and does not go away on its own.

With this disease, a general practitioner can be consulted. Further treatment usually takes place in a hospital.

Treatment & Therapy

Vena cava compression syndrome in pregnant women can usually be prevented or resolved without extensive medical treatment. From the 12th week of pregnancy, the uterus is heavy enough to trigger hypertensive syndrome.

It is therefore recommended to assume an upright position as soon as symptoms appear. The circulatory disorders usually subside very quickly. The side position is much more advantageous and relieves the inferior vena cava. The blood flow to the heart can take place undisturbed. Treatment of vena cava compression syndrome in non-pregnant patients first requires elucidating the cause of the circulatory disorders.

These are mostly tumors in the abdomen. With surgical removal, the pressure on the artery is relieved. In some cases, a changed lying position of the patient is required until removal. He must rest in a slightly erect or at least lateral position so that the vena cava compression syndrome cannot occur.


Vena cava compression syndrome prevention primarily affects pregnant women. To avoid circulatory disorders, they refrain from lying flat on their backs as early as possible. Although the lateral position is more advantageous, it cannot be maintained permanently. To avoid the symptoms of vena cava compression syndrome when lying on your back, pregnant women can place a flat pillow under their right side. This creates a slight tilt to the left, which slightly dislocates the uterus and prevents vena cava compression syndrome.


Since vena cava compression syndrome occurs exclusively during pregnancy, it is a disease or complication that requires follow-up care in the remainder of the pregnancy. After delivery of the child, there are no further consequences or complications for the mother that would be expected from vena cava compression syndrome.

The vena cava compression syndrome is not to be regarded as an independent disease, but a phenomenon that occurs very frequently during pregnancy and normally does not require any follow-up treatments in a healthy patient. The follow-up care here is primarily aimed at the patient in explaining the cause of the occurrence of the vena cava compression syndrome.

By avoiding appropriate body positions – such as lying on your back for a long time – blood flow to the heart can be ensured and the symptoms do not return. Further special follow-up care is usually not necessary, and drug therapy is not necessary.

Immediately after the occurrence of the vena cava syndrome, however, attention must be paid to repositioning the patient and stabilizing the circulation. Other symptoms that occur usually subside on their own very quickly after repositioning and leave no damage to mother and child.

You can do that yourself

If signs of vena cava compression syndrome appear, it is necessary to consult the gynecologist. Compression of the vena cava requires medical evaluation and treatment. Affected women can remedy the disease themselves by positioning themselves appropriately. The necessary measures should be supervised by a doctor. In severe cases, an operation is necessary.

Women who repeatedly experience dangerous compression should see a hospital. As a rule, the responsible gynecologist initiates the further steps. After the surgical intervention, in which the vena cava is relieved, the patient has to take it easy. Accompanying this, initial birth preparations usually have to be made in order to be prepared in the event of another vena cava compression syndrome.

Affected women also need support in everyday life because of the pregnancy. If no partner is available, an outpatient nursing service is an option. In addition, observation of physical symptoms is necessary. Pressure in the area of ​​the uterus, severe pain or dizziness indicate a complication. The medical emergency service or the rescue service are suitable contacts. In the case of repeated complaints, temporary accommodation in a hospital is recommended until the child is born.

Vena Cava Compression Syndrome