Neurological Sciences

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 383–388 | Cite as

Thoracic outlet syndrome: wide literature for few cases. Status of the art

  • Pietro Emiliano Doneddu
  • Daniele Coraci
  • Paola De Franco
  • Ilaria Paolasso
  • Pietro Caliandro
  • Luca PaduaEmail author
Review Article


Despite its low prevalence and incidence, considerable debate exists in the literature on thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). From literature analysis on nerve entrapments, we realized that TOS is the second most commonly published entrapment syndrome in the literature (after carpal tunnel syndrome) and that it is even more reported than ulnar neuropathy at elbow, which, instead, is very frequent. Despite the large amount of articles, there is still controversy regarding its classification, clinical picture, diagnostic objective findings, diagnostic modalities, therapeutical strategies and outcomes. While some experts believe that TOS is underrated, overlooked and very frequent, others even doubt its existence as a nosological entity. In the attempt to shed more light on this condition, we performed a systematic review of the literature and report evidence and opinions around this controversial subject. Only articles focused on neurogenic TOS were considered. Understanding the status of the art and the underlying reasons of doubts and weaknesses could help clinical practice and set the stage for future research.


Thoracic outlet syndrome Nerve entrapments Brachial plexus Literature review Neuropathy Neurogenic TOS 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geriatrics, Neurosciences and OthopaedicsUniversità Cattolica del Sacro CuoreRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of NeurorehabilitationDon Carlo Gnocchi Onlus FoundationMilanItaly
  3. 3.Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Orthopaedic Science“Sapienza” UniversityRomeItaly

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