Primary leiomyosarcoma of the IVC is a rare malignant tumor first described in 1891 by Perl at autopsy. The most common presenting symptoms are abdominal pain, palpable abdominal mass, and lower limb edema . However, even with extensive caval involvement, severe venous obstructive symptoms are not often seen, probably because of the development of extensive venous collaterals, which maintain adequate flow around the level of obstruction . The segment of IVC between the renal veins and the hepatic veins (level II or middle segment) is the most commonly affected location for all primary vascular tumors [3, 5, 6].
IVC leiomyosarcomas are relatively resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and complete resection of the tumor is the only known method for a chance of cure. The prognosis for leiomyosarcoma of the IVC treated medically is poor, with an average survival of less than 3 months . However, in the past 2 decades, aggressive surgical resection has yielded notable survival benefits, even for patients with metastatic disease. While data are confined to a relatively small number of patients, 5-year survival rates have been shown to be as high as 31% to 53% [3, 5–8, 10] after complete resection of level II IVC leiomyosarcoma.
Early diagnosis is rare, and the tumors often invade surrounding organs. The amount of vascular involvement by the retroperitoneal tumor accounts for the high surgical risk and technical difficulties seen during attempts at complete resection. Accurate preoperative imaging to determine the extent of the tumor is essential for adequate planning, and magnetic resonance imaging is the preferred modality.
Caval management after IVC resection is controversial. Options include primary repair, autologous patching, ligation, or reconstruction with prosthetic graft. Extensive venous involvement and large tumor size often preclude short segment resection with simple repair or patching. Ligation of the IVC is favored by some and has been shown to be well tolerated and generally safe, especially in those with preoperative IVC thrombosis [1, 3]. However, there is a risk of late complications such as pain, swelling, and skin breakdown from severe lower extremity edema. Long-term anticoagulation may be necessary in these patients. Suprarenal IVC tumor involvement treated with IVC ligation can place a patient at serious risk for renal insufficiency. Restoration of flow to the right renal vein by reimplantation (or pelvic kidney autotransplantation) is mandatory to maintain right kidney function, but optional for the left renal vein because of the left kidney's considerable collateral drainage through the adrenal, inferior phrenic, gonadal, and paravertebral vessels .
Because of the considerable size of these tumors at diagnosis, wide retroperitoneal dissection is often necessary for complete tumor resection, disrupting the preexisting venous channels. This dissection negates any collateral flow that achieved venous decompression preoperatively. Long segments of tumor involvement of the IVC necessitate ligation of a larger amount of lumbar veins that serve as collaterals. Kieffer et al  used a proximal pressure reading of 30 mm Hg or more in the IVC as an indication for caval reconstruction and found reconstruction to be necessary in most cases. PTFE is the most commonly used prosthetic material and has been shown to be a suitable replacement for the IVC with excellent long-term patency [5, 6, 8–10, 12]. Infection and graft thrombosis are the 2 major complications of this type of reconstruction, but both are rare. Graft thrombosis may or may not have any clinical importance, and methods used to decrease its incidence include the use of ring-reinforced PTFE to prevent compression, short-term anticoagulation, and placement of an arteriovenous fistula to augment flow .
Although increasing the complexity of the operation, partial or total resection of locally involved organs is necessary for complete tumor removal because prognosis is highly dependent on a tumor-free margin. Patients with inadequate resections are at high risk for local recurrence, causing death from a retroperitoneal sarcoma . Multivisceral resection, especially of enteric organs, may make a surgeon hesitant to place autogenous material for reconstruction. However, PTFE graft infection after IVC replacement has been shown to be a rare occurrence in several large series [5, 6, 8–10, 12]. Measures to decrease risk of graft contamination include routine perioperative intravenous antibiotics, antibiotic irrigation of the abdomen, and coverage of the graft with omentum for graft isolation. However, to our knowledge, resection of the pancreas has not been reported in combination with IVC resection and reconstruction. Pancreatic fistula occurs in up to 23% to 26% of cases of distal pancreatectomy for malignancy [13, 14]. Pancreatic leak would have serious consequences in the face of prosthetic vascular material in close proximity and could result in catastrophic graft infection. Measures to prevent pancreatic contamination of the graft should be undertaken, including ensuring adequate distal pancreatic stump closure and providing sufficient closed suction drainage of the pancreatic bed.