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 17, 2012

Sympathectomy has a negative risk-benefit balance

no chance for nerve regeneration as early as 10 days after clipping

*Study presented at the 9th Biannual International Society for Sympathetic Surgery Conference in Odense, Denmark in May 2011.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

69% of patients continued to have relief after ETS, patient satisfaction rate was 56%

There were no operative mortalities, minor complications occurred in 22%. Initial success rate was 88%. Median follow up was 93 (24-168) months, response rate to the questionnaire was 85%. Sixty-nine per cent of patients continued to have relief of initial symptoms, whereas patient satisfaction rate was 56%. CS was present in 42 patients (68%). Long-term satisfaction rates per initial indication group were 42% for facial blushing and 65% for hyperhidrosis (n.s.), and CS was present in 79% vs 61%, respectively.
ETS appears a safe treatment for upper limb hyperhydrosis with acceptable long-term results. For excessive blushing, however, long-term satifaction rates of ETS are severely hampered by a high incidence of disturbing compensatory sweating. ETS should only be indicated in patients with unbearable symptoms refractory to non-surgical treatment. The patient information must include the long-term substantial risk for sever CS and regret of the procedure.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"sympathectomy highlighted the disparity between what is known in practice and what appears in the literature"

The March 2004 edition was quite outstanding, with an excellent editorial reminding the reader that only good results are published. The review on thoracoscopic sympathectomy highlighted the disparity between what is known in practice and what appears in the literature. 
‘Know Your Results’, the topic of the ASGBI Annual Scientific Meeting, is of outstanding importance; what is more, the surgeon has to go on knowing his/her results to ensure standards of practice do not slip.
The Journal appreciates comments and criticism and the correspondence column remains a crucial part of the BJS in its interaction between editors and reader. It is also part of the scientific process.
A more robust and incisive criticism of articles known to be flawed would prevent the retractions that have recently been published in the Lancet.
Christopher Russell, Chairman, BJS Society
Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, ANNUAL REPORT 2004

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Publications authored by prolific ETS surgeons should be carefully examined and compared

Ann Thorac Surg. 2004 Sep;78(3):1052­5.
Selective division of T3 rami communicantes (T3 ramicotomy) in the treatment of palmar hyperhidrosis.
Lee DY, Kim DH, Paik HC.
Respiratory Center, Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Yongdong Severance Hospital, Yonsei
University College of Medicine, Seoul, People's Republic of China.
BACKGROUND: Compensatory sweating (CS) is the main cause of a patient's dissatisfaction after sympathetic surgery for palmar hyperhidrosis.Preservation of the sympathetic nerve trunk and limitations on the range of dissection are necessary to reduce CS.
METHODS: We compared 64 patients (31 male, 33 female) (group 1) who underwent a T2 sympathicotomy between July 1998 and February 1999 and 83 patients (58 male, 25 female) (group 2) who underwent a T3 ramicotomy between August 2000 and December 2002.
RESULTS: In group 1, 60 patients (93.8%) exhibited a decreased sweating on both hands, but 4 patients (6.2%) exhibited a persistent sweating on both hands. For group 2, 58 patients (69.9%) experienced a decreased sweating on both hands, 15 patients (18.1%) experienced a persistent sweating on both hands, and 10 patients (12.0%) experienced a persistent sweating on one hand. The grade of CS in group 2 was significantly lower than in group 1 (p < 0.001) and, notably, the rate of embarrassing and disabling CS in group 2 (15.5% [9 out of 58]) was significantly lower than in group 1 (43.3% [26 out of 60], p value < 0.001). The rate of satisfaction was 78.1% (50 out of 64) for group 1 and 68.6% (57 out of 83) for group 2 with no significant statistical difference indicated (p = 0.202).
CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of sweating postoperatively was relatively high in the T3 ramicotomy group, although the T3 surgery did result in a lower incidence of CS when compared with a T2 sympathicotomy.
PMID: 15337046 [PubMed ­ indexed for MEDLINE]
Publication Types, MeSH Terms LinkOut ­ more resources


Surg Today. 2012 Jul 15. [Epub ahead of print]
A comparison between two types of limited sympathetic surgery for palmar hyperhidrosis.
Hwang JJ, Kim DH, Hong YJ, Lee DY.
Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Eulji University Hospital, Daejeon, Korea.
PURPOSE: Endoscopic thoracic sympathetic surgery is effective for treating palmar hyperhidrosis, although compensatory sweating (CS) is a significant and annoying side effect. The purpose of this study was to compare the results of limited resection at two different locations.
METHODS: From May 2004 to June 2009, T3 sympathicotomy (group I) was performed in 46 patients and T3,4 ramicotomy (group II) was performed in 43 patients during the same period. T3 sympathicotomy (group I) and T3,4 ramicotomy (group II) were performed during the same period. Using questionnaires, completed by the patients, the satisfaction rates and grades of CS were analyzed.
RESULTS: No significant differences in age distribution or sex ratios were observed between the two groups. The satisfaction rate was 91.3 % in group I and 79.1 % in group II. The operation time was 19.8 (±6.6) min (sic!) in group I, and 51.6 (±18.8) min in group II, showing a statistically significant difference (p < 0.002). The incidence of persistent hand sweating in group II (16.3 %) was higher than that observed in group I (2.2 %). The incidence of compensatory sweating on the lower extremities was higher in group II (37.2 %) than in group I (10.9 %).
CONCLUSIONS: Although ramicotomy is considered to be an effective method for treating hyperhidrosis and has a theoretical advantage of allowing greater anatomical resection, it requires longer operation time and induces more severe compensatory sweating in the lower limbs resulting in reduced satisfaction rates.
PMID: 22798011 [PubMed ­ as supplied by publisher]

Monday, August 13, 2012

The effect of bilateral sympathectomy was significantly greater than that of unilateral sympathectomy

The effect of bilateral sympathectomy was significantly greater than that of unilateral sympathectomy. Unilateral and bilateral sympathectomy produced similar reductions in the concentrations of NPY-ir and NA in the ventricular tissue. In contrast dissimilar changes were produced in the atrium. Although bilateral sympathectomy almost totally depleted the NA from the right atrium (by 98%), the NPY-ir levels were only reduced by 50%. These results indicate that approximately half the content of NPY in the right atrium is not present in sympathetic noradrenergic neurones. 


University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine, Austin Hospital, Heidelberg, Vic., Australia.
 1987 Dec;21(2-3):101-7.

sympathectomy induced morphological alterations in the masseter muscles

Sympathectomized animals showed varying degrees of metabolic and morphological alterations, especially 18 months after sympathectomy. The first five groups showed a higher frequency of type I fibres, whilst the oldest group showed a higher frequency of type IIb fibres. In the oldest group, a significant variation in fibre diameter was observed. Many fibres showed small diameter, atrophy, hypertrophy, splitting, and necrosis. Areas with fibrosis were observed. Thus cervical sympathectomy induced morphological alterations in the masseter muscles. These alterations were, in part, similar to both denervation and myopathy. These findings indicate that sympathetic innervation contributes to the maintenance of the morphological and metabolic features of masseter muscle fibres.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bilateral cervical sympathectomies should be avoided because of the destruction of cardioaccelerator tone

Chylothorax as complication of sympathectomy

Chylothorax has been reported as a complication of wide range of other operations, including esophagoscopy, stellate ganglion blockade, thoracic sympathectomy, high translumbar aortography, lung resection, thyroid surgery, and spinal surgery.


Pursuing this study of the effect of epinephrine on muscle blood flow, Duff and Swan (10) reported that during intravenous epinephrine infusions the initial marked dilatation was succeeded by a second phase of moderate dilatation in normal but not in sympathectomized limbs. Because of its absence in chronically sympathectomized limbs this secondary vasodilatation was at that time thought to be an indirect vasomotor effect mediated by the sympathetic nerves. Re-examination of their data in the light of some subsequent critical experiments now reveals that the difference which they found between normal and sympathectomized limbs may be ascribed largely to vascular hypersensitivity in the later.
In the present paper these additional data are reported, and are incorporated with those of Duff and Swan(10); the whole material being interpreted to provide evidence that hypersensitivity of the vessels of skeletal muscle in the upper and lower limbs may result from pre- and postganglionic sympathectomy in man.
J Clin Invest. 1953 September; 32(9): 851–857.