Thoracic sympathicolysis for primary hyperhidrosis

A review of 918 procedures
  • J. Moya
  • R. Ramos
  • R. Morera
  • R. Villalonga
  • V. Perna
  • I. Macia
  • G. Ferrer



Bilateral upper thoracic sympathectomy or sympathicolysis, currently the standard treatment for palmar or axillary hyperhidrosis, is regarded as a safe procedure. This study evaluates the quantitative and qualitative incidence of intraoperative and postoperative complications resulting from bilateral thoracic sympathicolysis.


From 1996 to 2004, 458 consecutive patients with primary hyperhidrosis underwent surgery. These patients comprised 143 men (31.2%) and 315 women (68.7%) with a mean age of 26 years (range, 14–52 years). In all but seven cases, the procedure was bilaterally synchronous.


No mortality was recorded. The anhydrosis rate was 97.4%, with a hypohidrosis rate of 2.4% and a failure rate of 0.2%. The latter was resolved with reintervention. The mean hospital stay was 17 h. The rate of major perioperative complications with conversion to thoracotomy was 0.4%. The overall rate of postoperative complications was 3.6%. The complications and rates observed were as follows: pneumothorax (2.06%), subcutaneous emphysema (1.08%), pleural bleeding (0.2%), hemothorax (0.1%), and atelectasis (0.1%). Compensatory hyperhidrosis was observed in 48.4% of the patients, but the sensation of compensatory hyperhidrosis was reported in 85.6% of the cases. Excessive dryness of the hands was reported in 0.38%, Horner’s syndrome in 0.32%, and gustatory hyperhidrosis in 1.1% of the cases. The overall satisfaction rate was 88.5%.


The results suggest that endoscopic bilateral thoracic sympathicolysis is an effective method for managing primary hyperhidrosis, especially severe palmar hyperhidrosis, but it is necessary to inform patients fully concerning the undesirable effects.


Hemothorax Hyperhidrosis Sympathectomy Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Moya
    • 1
  • R. Ramos
    • 1
  • R. Morera
    • 1
  • R. Villalonga
    • 2
  • V. Perna
    • 1
  • I. Macia
    • 1
  • G. Ferrer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Thoracic SurgeryHospital Universitari de BellvitgeBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of AnesthesiologyHospital Universitari de BellvitgeBarcelonaSpain

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