Laparoscopic lumbar sympathectomy for lower-limb disease
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Background: The standard procedure for sympathectomy is open surgery. The oblique retroperitoneal approach is popular because it provides good visibility, albeit at the expense of requiring a long skin incision. Chemical sympathectomy has been introduced as a less invasive means of achieving sympatholysis; however, this method is also associated with a significant incidence of incomplete block and transient denervation. Laparoscopic surgery is a new approach that simplifies various surgical procedures. The aim of our report was to evaluate the benefits of endoscopic retroperitoneal surgery for lumbar sympathectomies. Methods: Between March 1997 and April 2000, seven patients underwent laparoscopic lumbar sympathectomy in our department (all men, with an average age or 45.1 years). The predominant presenting symptoms were unilateral pain at rest and lower-extremity coldness. Symphaectomy was performed using a retroperitoneal approach on six patients and an anterior transperitoneal approach on one patient. After laparoscopic lumbar sympathectomy, skin thermometry was carried out on all patients. Results: The postoperative skin temperature of the affected leg rose to 36.6 ± 0.5°C, as compared to 33.8 ± 0.8°C preoperatively. After laparoscopic lumbar sympathectomy, none of the patients complained of neuralgia. All patients achieved sustained symptomatic relief, and no major postoperative complications were noted. Conclusions: Lumbar sympathectomy can be performed laparoscopically. Currently, our standard technique is the retroperitoneal approach. More clinical experience and long-term follow-up will ultimately determine if this will become the procedure of choice. However, we believe that a learning period is necessary for this technique to be fully mastered.
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