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June 1987

Sympathectomy for Causalgia: Patient Selection and Long-term Results

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver.

Arch Surg. 1987;122(6):668-672. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1987.01400180050009

• Thirty-four sympathectomies were performed for causalgic pain. Overt extremity trauma was the precipitating event in only 26%. In 48%, nerve compression requiring surgical relief preceded the onset of the pain; most common lumbar disk surgery (37%). In the remainder (26%), miscellaneous vascular conditions contributed. Satisfactory immediate relief was obtained in 97% and 61% were completely relieved of pain initially. There were no deaths, 10% wound complication rate, and one instance of Horner's syndrome. Postsympathectomy neuralgia occurred in close to 40%, lasted a little over a month on the average but did not persist beyond ten weeks. In extended follow-up, only one patient failed to sustain satisfactory relief (97% of those relieved, 94% of the total) and 84% continued to enjoy the same degree of relief as they had immediately preoperatively. This frequency, degree, and duration of benefit establishes causalgic pain as one of the best indications for surgical sympathectomy.

(Arch Surg 1987;122:668-672)

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