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Ann Thorac Surg. 2006 Mar;81(3):1043-7.

Gustatory side effects after thoracoscopic sympathectomy.

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Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Skejby Sygehus, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.



Compensatory sweating is a frequent side effect after thoracoscopic sympathectomy for primary hyperhidrosis. Gustatory sweating is less commonly reported. It is defined as facial sweating when eating certain foods (particularly spicy food or acidic fruits) and has no generally accepted pathophysiologic explanation. We decided to investigate this phenomenon in patients who underwent thoracoscopic sympathectomy for primary hyperhidrosis and analyze whether the occurrence was influenced by the extent of sympathectomy.


During an 8-year period (1997 to 2005) a total of 238 patients were treated by thoracoscopic sympathectomy for primary hyperhidrosis or blushing. Sympathectomy was performed bilaterally at T2 for facial hyperhidrosis or blushing (n = 97), T2-T3 for palmar hyperhidrosis (n = 76), and T2-T4 for axillary hyperhidrosis (n = 65). All patients received the same questionnaire at follow-up.


The questionnaire was returned by 96% of patients after a median of 17 months. Overall, gustatory sweating occurred in 32% of patients, and the incidence was significantly associated with extent of sympathectomy (p = 0.04). However, because the extent of sympathectomy was always decided by the location of primary hyperhidrosis, the latter may also explain the risk of gustatory sweating.


Gustatory sweating is a frequent side effect after thoracoscopic sympathectomy. This is the first study to report that its incidence is significantly related to the extent of sympathectomy or the location of primary hyperhidrosis. Although there is no pathophysiologic explanation of gustatory sweating, these findings should be considered before planning thoracoscopic sympathectomy and patients should be thoroughly informed.

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