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Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1996 Apr;8(2):214-20.

The transaxillary approach for treatment of thoracic outlet syndromes.

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Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, USA.


The diagnosis and management of thoracic outlet syndromes is based on the surgical management of more than 3,000 patients, 800 of which have had recurrent thoracic outlet syndromes. Accurate diagnosis for peripheral nerve compression is based on measurement of the ulnar and median nerve conduction velocities across the thoracic outlet. For sympathetic maintained pain syndrome or causalgia, a stellate ganglion block is helpful. Arteriography and venography are critical to show vascular compression. Conservative management is successful in most cases (70%) initially. For arterial reconstruction, the supraclavicular-infraclavicular approach is recommended. For the Paget-Schroetter syndrome (effort thrombosis of the axillary subclavian vein), prompt thrombolysis followed by transaxillary first rib resection is mandatory. No long-term anticoagulants are necessary. For hyperhidrosis, causalgia, sympathetic maintained pain syndrome or reflex sympathetic dystrophy, transaxillary dorsal sympathectomy with first rib resection or thoracoscopy is the preferred management when conservative therapy fails. For recurrent thoracic outlet syndrome and sympathetic maintained pain syndrome, a high thoracoplasty posterior approach is preferable with neurolysis of the nerve roots and brachial plexus as well as a dorsal sympathectomy. The technique of transaxillary first rib resection with or without dorsal sympathectomy is presented. The use of the thoracoscope expedites the procedure and improves the teaching capability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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