Object. Bilateral subaxillary transthoracic endoscopic sympathectomy (TES) is a popular procedure of upper thoracic sympathectomy. The anatomical locations of the T-2 and T-3 sympathetic trunks, as viewed under the endoscope, are varied in the rib head areas. In this study, the authors investigated the more visible anatomical locations of the T-2 and T-3 sympathetic trunks, the so-called nerves of Kuntz, and intercostal rami by performing transthoracic endoscopy.
Methods. Seventy patients with palmar hyperhidrosis undergoing bilateral TES (140 sides) via the anterior subaxillary approach were included in this study. The operative findings and video images of the T-2 and T-3 sympathetic trunks and ganglia were recorded and analyzed. The anatomical locations of the T-2 and T-3 sympathetic trunks along the horizontal axes of the rib heads were determined using a three-region system constructed by the authors. The area between the rib neck and the medial border of the rib head was equally divided into Region E (external half) and Region M (medial half). The area between the medial border of the rib head and the paravertebral ligament was defined as Region I.
The incidence of the T-2 and T-3 sympathetic trunks found in Regions E, M, and I were 31.4 to 42.9%, 50 to 57.1%, and 7.1 to 11.4%, respectively, on the left side, and 24.3 to 34.3%, 57.1 to 65.7%, and 8.6 to 10%, respectively, on the right side. One right (1.4%) and six left (8.6%) Kuntz nerves originating from the T-3 sympathetic trunk were found in seven patients (10%). The intercostal ramus was found around the T-2 rib neck in 24 patients (34.3%), with 18 cases (25.7%) for each side. The intercostal ramus around the T-3 rib neck was found in 17 patients (24.3%): 12 (17.1%) on the right and nine (12.9%) on the left.
Conclusions. These results indicate that approximately 90% of the T-2 or T-3 sympathetic trunks are located on the rib head. These findings may also be used to assist the surgeon in fluoroscopic guidance for locating the T-2 and T-3 sympathetic trunks during posterior percutaneous sympathectomy.