The amount of compensatory sweating depends on the patient, the damage that the white rami communicans incurs, and the amount of cell body reorganization in the spinal cord after surgery.
Other potential complications include inadequate resection of the ganglia, gustatory sweating, pneumothorax, cardiac dysfunction, post-operative pain, and finally Horner’s syndrome secondary to resection of the stellate ganglion.

After severing the cervical sympathetic trunk, the cells of the cervical sympathetic ganglion undergo transneuronic degeneration
After severing the sympathetic trunk, the cells of its origin undergo complete disintegration within a year.

Spinal cord infarction occurring during thoraco-lumbar sympathectomy
J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1963;26:418-421 doi:10.1136/jnnp.26.5.418

Friday, August 26, 2011

Stellate ganglion block "reboots" the insular cortex

Both patients experienced immediate, significant and durable relief as measured by the PCL (score minimum 17, maximum 85). In both instances, the pre-treatment score suggested a PTSD diagnosis whereas the post-treatment scores did not. One patient requested repeat treatment after 3 months, and the post-treatment score remained below the PTSD cutoff after 7 additional months of follow-up. Both patients discontinued all antidepressant and antipsychotic medications while maintaining their improved PCL score.


Selective blockade of the right stellate ganglion at C6 level is a safe and minimally invasive procedure that may provide durable relief from PTSD symptoms, allowing the safe discontinuation of psychiatric medications.

Stellate ganglion block effectively "reboots" the insular cortex

The following is a summary from our publications in Lancet Oncology and Medical Hypothesis

34   The picture demonstrates the connections from the stellate ganglion to other neural structures.  This was demonstrated using retro rabies virus techniques and functional MRI.  Both are objective data demonstrating the effect on the insula by the stellate ganglion.  Stellate ganglion block effectively "reboots" the insular cortex, allowing for a reduction in hot flashes

The stellate ganglion refers to the ganglion formed by the fusion of the inferior cervical and the first thoracic ganglion as they meet anterior to the vertebral body of C7. It is present in 80% of subjects. It usually lies on or above the neck of the first rib. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

To date, sufficient importance has not been placed on the long term effects that could cause dorsal sympathectomy

A scientific society has been created for surgery of the sympathetic nervous system, the International Society of Sympathetic Surgery (ISSS); and in the most recent thoracic surgery and related specialities congresses it fills up a considerable percentage of the programme.
On the other hand, this surgery, especially for hyperhidrosis and facial reddening, is the one that on a percentage basis generates more demands and complaints from the patients, even with medico-legal connotations.7 Despite that the majority of the patients show a very high degree of satisfaction, the presence of a patient operated for hyperhidrosis with important compensatory sweating that repeatedly manifest their dissatisfaction to the surgeon is a very annoying situation with an intractable solution. There are even forums on the Internet that constantly manifest their discomfort with this type of surgery in a violent and insulting tone, for example, the World Against Sympathectomy Website.

In summary, we are faced with a new disorder that is being attended massively in our hospitals and needs a moment of contemplation. What are we doing? Are we doing it properly? What are the future implications in these patients of dorsal sympathetic denervation? For the first 2 questions, we could find the answer in the new clinical guidelines and scientific society norms and with the publication of linger series, randomised systematic studies, reviews and meta-analyses. However, it is perhaps the latter of these that implies greater consideration. To date, sufficient importance has not been placed on the long term effects that could cause dorsal sympathectomy, and the effects on lung function, heart function, skin colouring and psychological state are being studies, among others;10 the most important being the first 2. secondary consequences of the operation.

The consequences of sympathetic denervation after a dorsal sympathectomy on lung function have been studied on several occasions11 and reductions in forced vital capacity, forced expiratory flow in the first second and maximum mesoexpiratory flow have been found, but with no clinical significance. It therefore seems that, despite sympathetic innervation being scarce, it directly influences motor tone, especially of the fine respiratory tracts, which cause a light obstructive pattern after the operation and favours bronchial hyperreactivity.12 It is of great interest to know the results of the research being carried out to recognise the long term effects.
Something similar occurs with heart function, the sympathectomy in the short term causes bradycardia due to a lack of sympathetic stimulation to the heart. Several cases of myocardial infarction13 and
chronotropic heart failure requiring the insertion of a pacemaker14 have been reported. In the long term, dorsal sympathetic interruption causes an effect similar to beta blockers on the heart, and produced a decrease in average heart rate, but with no significant changes in the electrocardiogram (normal Q-T).15 It may be good to know through long term prospective studies which effects it truly has on heart function and what it could mean for the daily lives of the operated patients. For the time being, those individuals who practice aerobic sports (for example, long distance runners and cyclists)
should be informed that with sympathectomy their heart rate may be reduced in situations of maximum effort and lower their performance.16

M. Congregado / Arch Bronconeumol. 2010;46(1):1-2

ETS story

I had ETS surgery (cutting of T2) about 10 years ago for facial HH. The surgery worked very well and I had virtually no immediate complications from the surgery (infection, nerve damage, etc). I now experience severe CS on my trunk (worse on my back) that is pretty debilitating. At this point I'm considering reversal surgery (and am very open to any insight).

I had the surgery done in San Francisco, CA by a now-retired thoracic surgeon (I live in the Portland, OR area). He did mention CS as a possible side effect but didn't present it as a huge risk. To be fair, I was so desperate that I probably wouldn't have listened anyway. That's why it is incumbent on doctors to save us from ourselves. Any surgeon that performs invasive, irreversible surgery to treat conditions where patients are despondent and vulnerable should overemphaasize the risks and minimize the possible benefits (under-promise and over-deliver).

The surgery was uneventful and recovery was quick and I had no immediate complications. In terms of efficacy, the surgery was tremendously successful. My facial HH was immediately and completely resolved, as was my hand-sweating (which wasn't a huge problem, but they are 100% dry now). I still experience gustatory sweating occasionally with very rich or spicy foods but it's not a problem at all. I also still experience blushing but I believe it may be better than it was.

That's the good part. Like many others, I now have severe CS on my trunk (worse on my back). I don't have any of the other dry scalp or pain syndromes that others have though, so maybe I'm one of the lucky ones.

Interestingly, having no moisture on your hands does cause some problems. It's hard to count out money (seriously) or pick things up and it's almost impossible to deal cards (and I used to be a BJ dealer in Las Vegas in college!). It's also hard to play basketball as you really need a little moisture on your hands to properly grip and put spin on the ball.

I've tried hyoscyamine and Robinul and find that Robinul seems to work better but really only reduces the CS about 20-30% most of the time. Often, it doesn't matter what I take.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

acute response to surgical denervation and abrupt release of sympathetic tone

Intraoperative predictability of successful outcome depends on monitoring of the acute response to surgical denervation and abrupt release of sympathetic tone.

Information on the long-term physiological sequelae is emerging rapidly. Preoperatively, in addition to abnormal sudomotor control, sympathetic cardiovascular regulation may be affected mildly in severe cases of hyperhidrosis. A blunted reflex bradycardia response to parasympathomimetic maneuvers such as Valsalva maneuver or cold water face immersion, as well as an increased heart rate response
to orthostatic stress, suggests a hyperfunctioning sympathetic discharge that is reversed after ETS.25,69 Because sympathetic cardiac accelerator fibers exit the spinal cord from segments T1 to T4, ETS is believed to simulate a mild physiological !-adrenergic blockade.70 This is because the heart rate at rest and during maximal exercise is lower 6 weeks postoperatively

Mayo Clin Proc.     •     May 2005;80(5):657-666 

Surgical Sympathectomy should be first line treatment according to 'Center for the Cure of Sweaty Palms™' surgeon

Given the clear superiority of BTS (bilateral thoracoscopic sympathectomy) for severe palmoplantar hyperhidrosis, deliberately using medical treatments that are known with near certainty to be eneffective and at times considerably noxious simply as a requisite to surgery may not be in the best interest of such patients, nor is such an approach ultimately cost-effective. There is no evidence that surgical intervention should be considered a "last resort" for this form of hyperhidrosis. BTS can safely and confidently be recommended as first-line treatment for the typical, severe form of palmoplantar hyperhidrosis.

(no conflict of interest has been declared by the authors)

Fritz J. BaumgartnerCorresponding Author Contact Information, a, E-mail The Corresponding Author, Shana Bertina and Jiri Konecnya

Annals of Vascular Surgery
Volume 23, Issue 1, January-February 2009, Pages 1-7