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Supraclavicular approach for thoracic outlet syndrome.

UNLABELLED: The authors' experience with the supraclavicular approach for the treatment of patients with primary thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) and for patients with recurrent TOS or iatrogenic brachial plexus injury after prior transaxillary first rib resection is presented. The records of 33 patients (34 plexuses) with TOS who presented for evaluation and treatment were analyzed. Of these, 12 (35%) plexuses underwent surgical treatment, and 22 (65%) plexuses were managed non-operatively. The patients who were treated non-operatively and had an adequate follow-up (n = 11) were used as a control group. Of the 12 surgically treated patients, five patients underwent primary surgery; four patients had secondary surgery for recurrent TOS; and three patients had surgery for iatrogenic brachial plexus injury. All patients presented with severe pain, and most of them had neurologic symptoms. All nine (100%) patients who underwent primary surgery (n = 5) and secondary surgery for recurrent TOS (n = 4) demonstrated excellent or good results. On the other hand, six (54%) of the 11 patients from the control group had some benefit from the non-operative treatment. Reoperation in three patients with iatrogenic brachial plexus injury resulted in good result in one case and in fair results in two patients; however, all patients were pain-free. No complications were encountered. Supraclavicular exploration of the brachial plexus enables precise assessment of the contents of the thoracic inlet area. It allows for safe identification and release of all abnormal anatomical structures and complete first rib resection with minimal risk to neurovascular structures. Additionally, this approach allows for the appropriate nerve reconstruction in cases of prior transaxillary iatrogenic plexus injury.

ELECTRONIC SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL: The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11552-009-9253-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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