Video-assisted thoracoscopic sympathectomy for severe intractable angina

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 1999 Sep;16 Suppl 1:S95-8. doi: 10.1016/s1010-7940(99)00197-9.


Objective: Endoscopic trans-thoracic sympathectomy is a well documented, safe and successful treatment for palmar and axillary hyperhidrosis. This may also be helpful in the management of patients with intractable angina and advanced coronary disease unsuitable for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA). We evaluated video assisted thoracoscopic sympathectomy (VATS) in such patients with the aim of improving symptoms and quality of life.

Methods: Video assisted thoracoscopic sympathectomy, a minimally invasive procedure, was performed under general anaesthesia with alternating single lung ventilation. Three stab incisions were made at the level of the fourth intercostal space in the anterior and posterior axillary lines, and at the fifth intercostal space in the mid-axillary line through which an extensive thoracic sympathectomy was performed to include second to the fourth ganglia, bilaterally.

Results: A total of 16 patients aged 46-76 (mean 61) years were assessed for VATS. Of these 10 patients had the procedure performed; nine with previous CABG and one with diffuse coronary disease. Six patients were excluded because of an evolving MI (n = 1), left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) < 30% (n = 2), and chronic stable angina with no objective evidence of ischaemia (n = 3). All 10 patients had marked symptomatic improvement with reduction of both angina frequency and intensity of attacks. Mean follow-up period 11.5 months. Exercise tolerance and time to onset of angina measured on exercise treadmill was significantly increased post-VATS (P = 0.028) and maintained 1 year post-operative.

Conclusion: VATS was associated with both reduction in angina symptoms and an increase in exercise time to onset of angina. An improved quality of life was evident.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angina Pectoris / diagnosis
  • Angina Pectoris / physiopathology
  • Angina Pectoris / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Ganglia, Sympathetic / surgery*
  • Ganglionectomy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Recurrence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted*
  • Treatment Outcome