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, September 11, 2014

Because of the anaesthetic implications and possible surgical complications, many surgeons are reluctant to perform transthoracic sympathectomy

Hypoxaemia is of a major concern during thorascopic sympathectomy. However, the pathophysiology of hypoxaemia and consequent decrease in SpO2 differs between the two anaesthetic techniques.

The normal physiological response to massive atelectasis is an increase in pulmonary vascular resistance (hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction) with re-routing of blood to well ventilated lung zones and consequent improvement in PaO2. HOWEVER, DURING ENDOBRONCHIAL ANAESTHESIA FOR THORACIC SYMPATHECTOMY THERE IS AN APPARENT FAILURE OF THIS COMPENSATORY MECHANISM. When more then 70% of the lung is atelectatic, compensation by hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction appears ineffective.

During carbon dioxide insufflation using endobronchial intubation, Hartrey and colleagues reported a decrease in systolic arterial pressure of >20mm Hg in 21% of patients. Similarly we have reported sudden hypotension and bradycardia after injudicious carbon dioxide insufflation.

Although extremely rare, sudden cardiac arrest has been reported after left T2-3 sympathetic nerve transection. While the exact pathophysiology of this occurence is unclear, it is postulated that before complete transection of the sympathetic trunk, continuous sympathetic stimulation to the stellate ganglions results in a reduction in the ventricular finrillation threshold, arrhythmia and cosequent cardiac arrest.
In an iteresting study of the delayed cardiac effects of T2-$ symtpathectomy, Drott and colleagues demonstrated significantly reduced heart rate at rest, and during both exercise and the recovery phase of exercise. Changes is the electrical axis and shortening of the QT interval have also been reported.

Irrespective of the technique used the reported incidence of postoperative pneumpthorax is variable, occuring in 2-15% of cases.
In a study by Gothberg, Drott and Claes, postoperative chest x-ray after 1274 procedures, in 602 patients demonstrated that a small apical pneumothroax was a usual occurence.

Conclusion: Because of the anaesthetic implications and possible surgical complications, many surgeons are reluctant to perform transthoracic sympathectomy.

British Journal of Anaesthesia 1997; 79: 113-119
B. Fredman, D. Olsfanger and R. Jedeikin