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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Postsympathectomy pain of such severity that parenteral narcotics afforded no relief

Fifty-six consecutive patients who subsequently underwent ninety-six lumbar sympathectomies were studied prospectively with regard to the development of postoperative pain. Pain after operation was observed in thirty-four extremities by twenty-five of the patients (35 per cent). It began abruptly an average of twelve days after operation and was often accentuated nocturnally. The pain was almost always described as a deep, dull ache and persisted two to three weeks before spontaneously remitting. Postsympathectomy pain of such severity that parenteral narcotics afforded no relief developed in two of these fifty-six patients and in nine additional patients. Treatment with carbamazepine produced dramatic reduction in the intensity of pain in seven of these nine patients within twenty-four hours after the institution of therapy. Two patients were given intravenous diphenylhydantoin and both experienced immediate relief of pain. The mechanisms of the syndrome and of the action of these drugs are uncertain.