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, February 17, 2012

reduced oxygen saturation and shallow respiration after a thoracoscopic sympathectomy

  1. D. J. Canty1,2,3,* and  C. F. Royse4,5
1Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Hobart Hospital, 48 Liverpool Street, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia
  1. 2Medical School of The University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia
  2. 3Department of Pharmacology, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  3. 4Anaesthesia and Pain Management Unit, Department of Pharmacology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  4. 5Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria, Australia
  1. *Corresponding author. E-mail: 

Although bilateral sympathectomy almost totally depleted the NA from the right atrium (by 98%), the NPY-ir levels were only reduced by 50%

Unilateral and bilateral sympathectomy produced similar reductions in the concentrations of NPY-ir and NA in the ventricular tissue.
Maccarrone C, Jarrott B.


University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine, Austin Hospital, Heidelberg, Vic., Australia.

St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne does not perform sympathectomies

Occurrence and multiple recurrence of severe vasospasm of the upper extremity following thorascopic sympathectomy for hyperhidrosis

CAUSES AND MANAGEMENT OF ORTHODEOXIA - The Australian Short Course on Intensive Care Medicine, 2005


p. 79:
o Parkinson disease (Hussain 2004)
o Bilateral thoracic sympathectomy (van Heerdon 2004)

Published in 2005 by
The Australasian Academy of Critical Care Medicine
630 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne,
Victoria 3004

ISSN 1327-4759


  1.  *Department of Vascular Surgery, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia
  2. †Department of Surgery, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Volume 67, Issue 8, pages 578–579, August 1997
A report of a patient with an azygos lobe and an associated anomalous azygos vein covering the upper thoracic sympathetic chain. This anomaly poses a significant risk during the procedure of endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. A chest X-ray is useful in detecting this anomaly and alerting the surgeon to potential problems.

a reduction of the muscular tone and to a secondary neurovascular disorder at the edge of the sympathetic denervation zone

Surgical sympathectomies and chemical sympatholyses bring about a true sympathetic deafferentation. This leads to central retrograde degenerescence reactions of the pre-ganglionic neurons, to a reduction of the muscular tone and to a secondary neurovascular disorder at the edge of the sympathetic denervation zone.


The following is a case report of a healthy 18-year-old woman who had bilateral Cervico- Thoracic sympathectomy done in two stages for severe hyperhidrosis in the palms of her hands.
Two episodes of asystolic arrest occurred during the 2nd stage left Cervico-Thoracic sympathec- tomy.

Thirty-five minutes after starting the operation, as the surgeon was retracting and dissecting the upper thoracic chain,
the cardiac monitor showed sudden onset of sinus bradycardia. The pulse rate was 50 beats per minute. Atropine 1·2 mg was given intravenously but cardiac asystole occurred.

External cardiac compression was started and another dose of atropine 1· 2 mg was given, followed by adrenaline 1·0 mg but there was no response. Following a second dose of adrenaline 1·0 mg and sodium bicarbonate 100 mEq, the
heart restarted with a marked sinus tachycardia.

The cause of hyperhidrosis apparently originates from some poorly understood stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (Cloward 1969), and in sensitive patients this may possibly lead to excessive vagal stimulation to counteract it, as illustrated by the bradycardia and asystolic reaction to the sudden removal of the sympathetic control, and by the high doses of sympathomimetic drugs necessary to recommence cardiac activity. Anatomically the heart is innervated by the cardiac plexus which consists of the cardiac nerves derived from the cervical and upper thoracic ganglia of the sympathetic trunk and branches of the vagus.The pacemaker of the heart, the sino-atrial node, is innervated by both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nerves (King and Coakley 1958). The ventricular muscle of the heart is supplied solely by the sympathetic nerves, and the larger branches of the coronary arteries are also predominantly innervated by sympathetics (Woollard 1926). These factors may also have a bearing on the hazard of a bilateral cervico- thoracic sympathectomy, which leaves the heart solely under vagal control. Usually, following
denervation, the heart will initiate its own impulse, without recourse to external agencies, but there may be a place for transvenous electrode cardiac pacing, if spontaneous initiationof impulse is delayed, or bradycardia is severe.

R. F. Y. ZEE*
Royal Perth Hospital, Perth
Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Vol. V, No. 1, February, 1977, Australia