Technical Considerations in Endoscopic Cervicothoracic Sympathectomy

Leon G. Josephs, MD; James O. Menzoian, MD
Arch Surg. 1996;131(4):355-359. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1996.01430160013001.
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Objective:  To evaluate the technique and results of videoendoscopic cervicothoracic sympathectomy in patients who have reflex sympathetic dystrophy or hyperhidrosis of the upper extremity.

Design:  Clinical case series. The cohort underwent diagnostic evaluation and surgical intervention, and had a mean postoperative follow-up of 14 months.

Setting:  An urban, university-affiliated tertiary referral medical center.

Patients:  A consecutive, referred sample. Seven of the nine patients had reflex sympathectic dystrophy and two had bilateral upper extremity hyperhidrosis. Five were women and four were men, with a mean age of 44 years.

Interventions:  Ten thoracoscopic sympathectomies, encompassing the lower third of the stellate ganglion to the fourth thoracic ganglion, in nine patients. The technique is performed under general anesthesia, using three 1-cm incisions for instrument placement. Patients had bilateral hand temperature probes intraoperatively. Six of the procedures were in the left hemithorax, four in the right.

Main Outcome Measures:  Relief of the symptoms for which the patient was referred. Perfection and alteration of the technique also were measured.

Results:  The average operating time was 91 minutes. The average length of hospital stay was 3.5 days. The mean increase in skin temperature was 2.4°C. Nine of 10 patients had partial or complete relief of symptoms. One patient with severe dystrophic reflex sympathetic dystrophy has persistent symptoms. One patient had a pneumothorax for 48 hours. Horner's syndrome did not develop in any patient.

Conclusion:  Endoscopic cervicothoracic sympathectomy is an effective, minimally invasive therapy for upper extremity reflex sympathetic dystrophy and hyperhidrosis.(Arch Surg. 1996;131:355-359)


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