The postoperative radical-mastectomy syndrome is caused by the extensive surgery necessary in the efforts to cure a malignancy of the breast. The most characteristic sign of this syndrome is edema of the arm, but, in addition, one or more of the following signs and symptoms are usually present: accumulation of fluid under the skin flaps and in the axilla, delayed wound healing, pain in the arm and/or the chest, lymphangitis, induration of the arm and/or the chest wall, limitation of motion of the shoulder girdle and the arm, and hypertrophic cicatrix formation (Fig. 1).
The following factors, either individually or in combination, have been cited as the cause of the edema of the arm and could be responsible for the other signs and symptoms of the syndrome: (1) venous obstruction; (2) lymphatic-vessel destruction; (3) infection; (4) mechanical obstruction of the vessels by scar formation, metastatic tumors, and/or fat fold; (5)
MOORE DC, BRIDENBAUGH LD, BAKER JW, STONE CS. The Postoperative Radical-Mastectomy SyndromeIts Treatment with Stellate Ganglion Block. AMA Arch Surg. 1957;75(6):946-952. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1957.01280180078010