Thoracoscopic sympathectomy: techniques and outcomes

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Thoracic sympathectomy is an important option in the treatment of palmar hyperhidrosis and pain disorders. Earlier surgical procedures were highly invasive with known morbidity, acceptable outcome, and established recurrence rates that were the limitations to considering surgical treatment. Thoracoscopic sympathectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows detailed visualization of the sympathetic ganglia and minimal postoperative morbidity; however, outcome studies of this technique have been limited. The authors treated 39 patients with 60 thoracoscopic procedures, and the outcomes in this small series were equivalent to previously established open surgical techniques; however, operative moribidity rates, hospital stay, and time of return to normal activity were substantially reduced. Complications and recurrence of symptoms were also comparable to previous reports. Overall patient satisfaction and willingness to repeat the operative procedure ranged from 66 to 96% in all patients. Patients and physicians can consider minimally invasive thoracoscopic sympathectomy procedures as an option to treat sympathetically mediated disorders because of the procedure's reduced morbidity and at least equivalent outcome rates in comparison to other treatments.

Thoracic sympathectomy is an important option in the treatment of palmar hyperhidrosis and pain disorders. Earlier surgical procedures were highly invasive with known morbidity, acceptable outcome, and established recurrence rates that were the limitations to considering surgical treatment. Thoracoscopic sympathectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows detailed visualization of the sympathetic ganglia and minimal postoperative morbidity; however, outcome studies of this technique have been limited. The authors treated 39 patients with 60 thoracoscopic procedures, and the outcomes in this small series were equivalent to previously established open surgical techniques; however, operative moribidity rates, hospital stay, and time of return to normal activity were substantially reduced. Complications and recurrence of symptoms were also comparable to previous reports. Overall patient satisfaction and willingness to repeat the operative procedure ranged from 66 to 96% in all patients. Patients and physicians can consider minimally invasive thoracoscopic sympathectomy procedures as an option to treat sympathetically mediated disorders because of the procedure's reduced morbidity and at least equivalent outcome rates in comparison to other treatments.

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Address reprint requests to: J. Patrick Johnson, M.D., Division of Neurosurgery, University of California, Los Angeles, Box 956901, Los Angeles, California 90095-6901. email: johnson@surgery.medsch.ucla.edu
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