Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome in whiplash injury

J Spinal Disord. 2001 Dec;14(6):487-93. doi: 10.1097/00002517-200112000-00004.


A prospective study of 110 patients was carried out to determine the pathogenic significance of trauma to the upper body in the development of neural compressive irritation at the thoracic outlet. Twenty-nine patients were reviewed as cervical strain injuries (N group), 25 patients as probable neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (NTOS) (PT group), 39 patients as definite NTOS (T group), and 17 patients as NTOS associated with cervical disc disease (CD-T group). The time lapse between accident and diagnosis and the duration of treatment were significantly longer in T patients or CD-T patients than those in the N group. Radiography of NTOS patients also showed a higher percentage of cervical spine-length/height ratio. Traumatic NTOS would suggest two types related to direct damage of scalene muscles that included some physical aspects of cervical disc disease. Pathogenesis provided a key to the resolution of more complex posttraumatic problems of whiplash injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / etiology
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / physiopathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography
  • Spinal Fusion
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome / etiology*
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome / therapy
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications*