The cervico-thoracic outlet compression syndrome. Analysis of surgical treatment

Ann Chir Main. 1986;5(3):195-207. doi: 10.1016/s0753-9053(86)80059-x.
[Article in English, French]


Surgical treatment of the thoracic outlet compression syndrome is being presently reconsidered. Until these last few years, there was the choice between two interventions only: scalenotomy, a simple operation entailing no complication, but with a 60% recurrence rate--or the resection of the first rib through an axillary approach, an efficacious intervention which caused, however, serious nervous complications in 14% of treated cases. The follow-up of 75 cases operated for a TOCS reveals to the authors that--all techniques taken into account--results are unsatisfactory in 33% of cases. These failures are due either to technical deficiencies, or to a complication arising in the course of the operation, or to an erroneous diagnosis. The authors resort to surgery only to treat serious vascular syndromes (absolute indication) or invalidating neurological compression syndromes, after failure of physical therapy (relative indication). They propose a cervical approach--the only one enabling a safe dissection of the brachial plexus--a partial scalenectomy, resection of all fibrous bands pressing on nervous trunks, or the resection of a cervical rib. Should the costo-clavicular space appear anatomically too narrow, the first rib, already partially freed by the cervical approach, will be resected through the axillary route.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications
  • Methods
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome / surgery*