Long-term results and patient survival after first rib resection and endovascular treatment in hemodialysis patients with subclavian vein stenosis at the thoracic outlet

J Vasc Surg Venous Lymphat Disord. 2022 Jan;10(1):118-124. doi: 10.1016/j.jvsv.2021.05.002. Epub 2021 May 18.


Objective: Hemodialysis patients with upper extremity vascular access and subclavian vein stenosis at the thoracic outlet can present with significant arm edema and threatened dialysis access that is frequently refractory to endovascular therapy without bone decompression. We have presented our long-term results of first rib resection, followed by endovascular therapy.

Methods: We performed a retrospective review of 15 consecutive hemodialysis patients with subclavian vein stenosis treated with first rib resection and endovascular therapy from 2013 to January 2021. The diagnosis was confirmed by ultrasound and venography. Bone decompression was performed with transaxillary or infraclavicular rib resection.

Results: During the study period, we treated 1440 unique dialysis patients. Of these 1440 patients, 346 had undergone subclavian vein angioplasty. Of the 346 patients, 15 had undergone first rib resection and were the subject of the present report. Of the 15 patients, 10 were women and 5 were men. Their mean age was 56.4 years (range, 30-82 years). The most commonly associated medical conditions were hypertension and diabetes. The mean previous hemodialysis duration was 5.4 years (range, 1-13 years). Fourteen patients had preexisting functioning access and severe arm edema. Nine patients (60%) with subclavian vein occlusion had undergone vein recanalization before the bone decompression procedure. Of the 15 patients, 5 had undergone transaxillary and 10 had undergone infraclavicular first rib resection. In addition, nine patients had undergone simultaneous vein stenting, six had undergone vein stenting within 4 weeks, and one had undergone stenting at 13 months. A stent-graft was used in eight patients and a bare metal stent was used in seven. All preexisting dialysis access sites were used the day after the procedure. The average postoperative stay was 2.6 days (range, 1-8 days). No complications developed. The average follow-up was 35.13 months (range, 4-86 months). The freedom from any subsequent intervention was 50% at 10.5 months. The average number of endovascular procedures per patient during follow-up was 4.6. Ten patients had required access surgery during follow-up. Secondary patency was 100%. The median patient survival was 69.3 months.

Conclusions: Symptomatic hemodialysis patients with threatened vascular access caused by subclavian vein stenosis at the thoracic outlet were safely and successfully treated with first rib resection, followed by endovascular techniques. The procedure resulted in no morbidity and preserved dialysis access function in all patients during follow-up. Our experience has confirmed that excellent secondary patency and long-term clinical success can be obtained with regular follow-up, although with multiple secondary interventions. The median survival of 69 months after the procedure suggests it is worthwhile to expend this effort to maintain the hemodialysis access function of these patients.

Keywords: Central vein stenosis; Hemodialysis; Rib resection; Subclavian vein; Thoracic outlet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Endovascular Procedures*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ribs / surgery*
  • Survival Rate
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome / mortality
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome