People who suffer from thoracic outlet syndrome often experience pain and numbness in their shoulders, arms, and hands. Actually a group of disorders, thoracic outlet syndrome can be caused by physical trauma, injuries to the shoulder area, anatomical defects, and even pregnancy. Typically, thoracic outlet syndrome is treated using various forms of physical therapy, though extreme cases may require surgery.
At the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence, our thoracic surgeons are experts in performing a wide range of thoracic procedures, including procedures targeting the thoracic outlet itself. Using cutting-edge techniques, advanced knowledge, and state-of-the-art technologies, the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence’s thoracic surgeons are unmatched in the field of thoracic treatment. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our physicians, please contact us at 888.336.0998 today.Contact Us Now!
Though minimally invasive thoracic sympathectomy is the best way to relieve the symptoms associated with thoracic outlet syndrome, there are additional treatment remedies patients can try before resorting to surgery. Physical therapy, weight loss, and medications are treatment methods that have varying levels of success when dealing with thoracic outlet syndrome.
Visit our treatments page to learn more about these various treatments.
Video-assisted thoracic sympathectomy (commonly known as VATS) is a minimally invasive surgical technique used to relieve pressure on the thoracic outlet. Treatment of the thoracic outlet syndrome requires resection of the first rib. By removing a small piece of the rib, pressure is relieved on the thoracic outlet, reducing (and in some cases, completely eliminating) the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome in patients. The goal of thoracic outlet syndrome surgery is to relieve compression on the blood vessels and nerves in the thoracic outlet.
Before minimally invasive thoracic surgery, patients are placed under anesthesia, meaning that they will be “asleep” during the procedure. After a patient has been given anesthesia, surgeons make small incisions in the chest, into which they insert a high-tech camera. Video feed from the camera is sent to monitors in the operating room, which surgeons use to help to expertly guide them through the procedure. After locating the first rib, surgeons will “resection” the bone, providing much-needed relief to the thoracic outlet. In addition, surgeons may remove some muscles that contribute to the narrow nature of the thoracic outlet, increasing the size of the outlet and reducing the risk for recurrence.
After the rib has been resectioned and muscles removed, surgeons remove all instruments from the patient’s body and close the incisions with sutures.
Recovery from Thoracic Outlet Surgery
After VATS surgery has been performed, patients can expect to return home in the hours following the operation. However, our doctors strongly recommend that patients be driven home be a friend or loved one. Because a patient is placed under anesthesia, he or she may be groggy after the procedure and in no state to drive.
Recovery time for minimally invasive (VATS) first rib resection ultimately depends on the individual patient. Generally, patients fully recover within a few weeks after surgery, though they should be careful not to engage in any strenuous activities during the healing process. Arduous activities run the risk of injuring the operation site, necessitating additional treatment methods depending on the severity.
Benefits of Thoracic Outlet Surgery
Unlike traditional open surgery, VATS doesn’t leave large scars. VATS allows for surgeons to perform the procedure using very small incisions, as opposed to traditional open surgery. Recovery time from VATS is also quicker than the recovery time from traditional surgeries, allowing patients to return to the activities they enjoy faster and easier than ever before.
Aside from surgery, there are other, more conservative treatment methods that could potentially alleviate the pain and discomfort that occurs with thoracic outlet surgery. Though it is not a permanent solution, frequent shoulder and arm exercises can temporarily reduce pressure in the thoracic outlet, leading to a reduction in the severity of symptoms.
To see a list of exercises designed to relieve pressure on the thoracic outlet, please visit our exercises page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does minimally invasive first rib resection hurt?
A: Not at all! During VATS first rib resection surgery, patients are placed under anesthesia and will not be conscious during the procedure. Recovery from the procedure is also quicker and less painful than traditional open surgery. The technology used during VATS causes far less muscle and tissue damage than traditional surgery, meaning patients experience less post-surgery pain and complications than they would otherwise.
Q: Why should I receive a VATS procedure at the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence?
A: One of the things that makes us unique at the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence is the fact that our surgeons perform surgery together. Having two surgeons in the operating room as opposed to one helps reduce the chance of complications or problems arising during surgery. At the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence, our thoracic surgeons are also experts in performing a variety of other thoracic procedures, including lobectomy, lymph node dissection, and much more. Above all, our specialists are dedicated to providing their patients with the best and most effective care possible.
Contact a Thoracic Surgeon Today
If you are suffering from the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, please do not hesitate to contact the expert specialists at the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence. Our surgeons will ensure that you receive the best treatment using state-of-the-art technologies and their expert knowledge. To schedule a consultation with our thoracic surgeons, please call 888.336.0998 today.
Next, read about Preparing for Surgery.