Awake one stage bilateral thoracoscopic sympathectomy for palmar hyperhidrosis: a safe outpatient procedure

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2005 Aug;28(2):312-7; discussion 317. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcts.2005.03.046.


Objective: To verify the feasibility and compare the results of thoracoscopic sympathectomy under local anaesthesia (LA) and spontaneous breathing vs. general anaesthesia (GA) with one-lung ventilation.

Methods: Two groups of consecutive patients underwent one stage bilateral T2-T3 thoracoscopic sympathectomy under LA (n=15) and GA (n=30) by the same surgical team for treatment of primary palmar hyperhidrosis. The groups were homogeneous for relevant demographic, physiological and clinical data, including pulmonary function. In both groups, patient's satisfaction was evaluated 24h after surgery by a simple interview and scored into five grades (1=very poor to 5=excellent), while quality of life (QOL) was evaluated by SF-36 and Nottingham's Health Profile questionnaires before and 6 months after surgery. A cost comparison between groups concerning devices, drugs, global in operating room time, medical personnel and hospital stay was also carried out.

Results: No operative mortality was recorded. The overall in operating room time for the whole bilateral procedure under LA was 63.55+/-10.58 vs. 86.05+/-5.75 under GA (P<0.01) and temperature increased in all patients from a baseline of 25.42+/-0.56 up to 32.15+/-0.84 degrees C. All patients undergone LA were discharged the same day after a chest roentgenogram and a short stay in the outpatient clinic. Among them three patients (20%) experienced a minimal (<30%) pneumothorax that required no treatment, while five (33.3%) had a trunk compensatory sweating that spontaneously resolved on the long run. Patients undergoing GA were discharged after a mean stay of 1.38+/-0.6 days. Among these, eight (26.6%) had prolonged trunk compensatory sweating that did not persist longer than 3 months. At a follow-up of 7.16+/-2.97 months, QOL was significantly improved with no difference between groups. The overall rate of satisfaction was greater in the LA group (P<0.05).

Conclusions: In our study, awake one stage bilateral thoracoscopic sympathectomy for palmar hyperhidrosis could be safely and effectively performed as an outpatient procedure in patients refusing GA. Postoperative quality of life was equal to that in patients undergone the same procedure under GA, while patient satisfaction was better and cost were significantly reduced.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care / methods
  • Anesthesia, Local / methods
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Sympathetic / pathology
  • Hand / pathology
  • Hand / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Hyperhidrosis / pathology
  • Hyperhidrosis / physiopathology
  • Hyperhidrosis / surgery*
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life
  • Sweating / physiology
  • Sympathectomy / adverse effects
  • Sympathectomy / methods*
  • Thoracoscopy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Video-Assisted Surgery / methods