As a result of modern preventive medicine and surgery the average life span has been increased to the point where geriatric problems are demanding more attention than was true in the previous medical generation. Peripheral vascular diseases assume major importance in this increasingly aged general population.
The sympathetic nervous system plays a vital role in the pathogenesis as well as the treatment of many peripheral vascular disorders. In certain diseases much of the etiology can be traced to increased sympathetic activity, viz., Raynaud's disease, causalgia, frostbite, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and, to a more limited extent, the postphlebitic syndrome.1 In other instances the sympathetic system plays an important secondary role by setting up an extensive reflex vasoconstriction secondary to the stimulus of an occlusive arterial lesion. Such a situation obtains in peripheral arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis as well as in thromboangiitis obliterans.
The sympathetic system functions as a defense mechanism in
HOFFERT PW. Sympathectomy for Lower Extremity Occlusive Vascular Disease: Indications, Techniques, and Results. AMA Arch Surg. 1956;72(3):431–438. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1956.01270210061010
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