Recurrent thoracic outlet syndrome

Richard J. Sanders*, Craig E. Haug, William H. Pearce

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Recurrent symptoms develop in 15% to 20% of patients undergoing either first rib resection or scalenectomy for thoracic outlet syndrome. Over the past 22 years 134 operations for recurrence were performed in 97 patients. Four operations were used: transaxillary first rib resection (26); supraclavicular first rib resection with neurolysis (15); scalenectomy with neurolysis (58); and brachial plexus neurolysis (35). Complications included temporary plexus injury (0.7%), temporary phrenic palsy (3.7%), and permanent phrenic palsy (1.4%). The combined primary success rate of all four operations for recurrence was 84% in the first 3 months. This fell to 59% at 1 to 2 years; 50% at 3 to 5 years; and 41% at 10 to 15 years. No significant difference was found in results between the four operations used for recurrence. When recurrence was caused by trauma the results of reoperations were better than when recurrence was spontaneous. The primary success rates of three initial operations for thoracic outlet syndrome were compared to their secondary success rates (improved after reoperation). By use of life-table methods, reoperation improved the 5- to 10-year success rate of transaxillary first rib resection from 69% to 86% and for scalenectomy from 69% to 84%. Reoperation is successful in most cases of recurrent thoracic outlet syndrome and better when recurrence is the result of a neck injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-400
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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