Side effects, complications and outcome of thoracoscopic sympathectomy for palmar and axillary hyperhidrosis in 406 patients

Rodríguez, Pedro M.; Freixinet, Jorge L.; Hussein, Mohamed; Valencia, Jose M.; Gil, Rita M.; Herrero, Jorge; Caballero-Hidalgo, Araceli
September 2008
European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery;Sep2008, Vol. 34 Issue 3, p514
Academic Journal
Abstract: Background: Thoracic sympathectomy (TS) is the treatment of choice for severe primary hyperhidrosis. However, complications, side effects and satisfaction have not been well defined. Objective: To analyze the complications, side effects, satisfaction degree and quality of life of patients after TS for primary upper limb hyperhidrosis. Methods: One-year follow-up after 406 consecutive TS for primary upper limb hyperhidrosis. Results: Bilateral TS was completed in all patients. Complications arose in 23 cases (5.6%), with pneumothorax being the most frequent. The success rate after discharge, 6 and 12 months was respectively, 100%, 98.1% and 96.5% for palmo-axillary hyperhidrosis; 100%, 99.3% and 97.8% for isolated palmar hyperhidrosis and 100%, 85.7% and 71.4% for isolated axillary hyperhidrosis. No persistence of hyperhidrosis was observed. Global recurrence was 3.7% (28.5% axillary hyperhidrosis group). Compensatory sweating (CS) appeared in 55% and was not related to the extension of the TS. Being female was a predisposing factor of CS (p <0.004). Excessive dryness appeared at 9% and was associated with extensive TS (P <0.001). Plantar hyperhidrosis improved at 33.6%, worsened at 10% and remained stable during the follow-up. Satisfaction degree decreased with the passage of time and was associated with recurrence. Quality of life was excellent at discharge, 6 and 12 month in 100%, 100% and 97%, respectively. Conclusions: Pneumothorax is the most frequent complication of TS. CS is the main and undesirable side effect, appears with the passage of time, and is not related to the extension of TS. Being female is the only predictor factor of suffering CS. Plantar hyperhidrosis improves initially, although tends to reappear. Excessive dryness appears in extensive TS and does not improve over time. Postoperative satisfaction degree is high but decreases over time owing to the appearance of recurrence. Effectiveness and the absence of CS determine an excellent quality of life. Six percent of the patients regret the surgery because of severe CS. Informing patients of possible side effects before TS is essential.


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