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March 1994

Endoscopic Transthoracic Sympathectomy in the Treatment of Primary Hyperhidrosis: A Review of 290 Sympathectomies

Arch Surg. 1994;129(3):241-244. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1994.01420270015004

Objectives:  To describe the surgical technique of endoscopic transthoracic sympathectomy for the treatment of palmar hyperhidrosis and to identify associated complications.

Design:  Prospective clinical study.

Setting:  University referral center.

Patients:  A consecutive series of 150 patients with primary palmar hyperhidrosis.

Intervention:  The surgical procedure is performed under general anesthesia. A trocar and endoscope are inserted into the chest cavity. The sympathetic chain and the second, third, and fourth ganglia are then identified, cauterized, and cut. After reinflation of the lung, the procedure is repeated on the other side.

Results:  Two hundred ninety sympathectomies were performed with a 98% success rate. Complications of the procedure included pneumothorax in seven patients (2.4%), hemothorax in three (1.0%), and temporary Horner's syndrome in two (0.7%). Severe postoperative pain during the first 2 to 4 hours required treatment. Of 60 patients who were followed up for 12 months, 50% developed compensatory sweating and 8.3% developed rebound sweating. Hyperhidrosis recurred in three patients.

Conclusion:  Endoscopic transthoracic sympathectomy is an effective form of treatment for palmar primary hyperhidrosis, is associated with a low morbidity, and can be performed as an ambulatory procedure.

(Arch Surg. 1994;129:241-244)