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

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"I think the surgeons may not be aware of the long term consequences of denervation"

Email response from Dr. Ahmet Hoke of  John Hopkins School of Medicine,  School of Neurology - Specifically I asked him his opinion on three things:

1. What was his opinion of ETS in terms of risks vs benefits
2. His opinion on why Thoracic surgeons would advertise a surgical reversal approach when, as he sees it, it would  have a very low probability of success
3. His opinion on the Davinci Robot Reversal article regarding surgical reattachment of the sympathetic nerves

1. It all depends on the risk benefit analysis, for some patients yes it may make sense as not everyone develops as severe side effects.
2. I think the surgeons may not be aware of the long term consequences of denervation.

The paper you refer to is not a good model of what happens to the patients because they cut the nerve and immediately repaired it. In such immediate repairs, the ganglia does not loose it's neurons and can regenerate. A better model would be to cut the nerves, wait 6 months and then do the repair; I suspect the recovery would be a lot less.
Ahmet Hoke M.D., Ph.D. FRCPC
Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience
Director, Neuromuscular Division
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Department of Neurology
855 N. Wolfe St., Neurology 248
Baltimore, MD, 21205

diabetic autonomic neuropathy has already sympathectomized the patient

This diabetic syndrome has been attributed to a lesion of the sympathetic nerve fibres which control sweat secretion [11] and follow the course of the peripheral nerves [12]. This affects the efferent branch of the reflex arch and is identical to that occurring distal to a surgical sympathectomy [13].

There was no difference found between the histological changes in the nerves of the spontaneous anhidrotic patients
(Fig. 1) and those of the two previously sympathectomized patients.

A number of papers have been published which stressed [22-24] the high failure rate of sympathectomy operations in diabetics. We believe that the failure of the operation is due to the fact that diabetic autonomic neuropathy has already sympathectomized the patient. The results of the present study are compatible with this idea.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A dysesthetic syndrome can occur after sympathectomy

A dysesthetic syndrome can occur after sympathectomy; it usually is transient but sometimes can be persistent.

Eugenia-Daniela Hord, MD, Instructor, Departments of Anesthesia and Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital Pain Center, Harvard Medical School

Dysesthethic pain is a common complaint of patients with syringomyelia, traumatic paraplegia, and various myelopathic conditions. Because cavitary lesions of the spinal cord can be defined with good resolution by magnetic resonance imaging, syringomyelia provides a potential model for examining anatomic correlates of central pain. In this study, a syndrome of segmental dysesthesias, characterized by burning pain, hyperesthesia, and a variable incidence of trophic changes, was described by 51 of 137 patients (37%) with syringomyelia at the time of clinical presentation. Complete magnetic resonance scans, including axial images, demonstrated extension of the syrinx into the dorsolateral quadrant of the spinal cord on the same side and at the level of pain in 43 of 51 patients (84%). Surgical treatment of syringomyelia resulted in the relief or improvement of dysesthetic pain in 22 of 37 patients (59%), but 15 patients (41%) reported no improvement or an intensification of pain despite collapse of the syrinx. Postoperative dysesthetic pain was often a disabling complaint that responded poorly to medical therapy, including analgesics, sedatives, antiepileptics, antispasmodics, and anti-inflammatory agents. In most cases, there was a gradual improvement of symptoms, although six patients continued to complain of pain 24 to 74 months postoperatively.

We conclude that painful dysesthesias can be caused by a disturbance of pain-modulating centers in the dorsolateral quadrant of the spinal cord and have certain causalgia-like features that respond in an unpredictable way to surgical collapse of the syrinx.

Surgical procedure advertised as 'reversible' is not reversible

a recent consensus statement by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons recommended that the clipping method should be considered irreversible as the clipped nerve might not be able to recover after the removal of clips [6].
Ann Thorac Surg 2011;91:1642-8.