Diagnosis, impact and management of hyperhidrosis including endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy

Y L Ho, M Fauzi, K Sothee, A Basheer
Medical Journal of Malaysia 2020, 75 (5): 555-560

INTRODUCTION: Hyperhidrosis is a disorder of excessive and uncontrollable sweating beyond the body's physiological needs. It can be categorised into primary or secondary hyperhidrosis based on its aetiology. Detailed history review including onset of symptoms, laterality of disease and family history are crucial which may suggest primary hyperhidrosis. Secondary causes such as neurological diseases, endocrine disorders, haematological malignancies, neuroendocrine tumours and drugs should be adequately examined and investigated prior to deciding on further management. The diagnosis of primary hyperhidrosis should only be made only after excluding secondary causes. Hyperhidrosis is a troublesome disorder that often results in social, professional, and psychological distress in sufferers. It remains, however, a treatment dilemma among some healthcare providers in this region.

METHODS: The medical records and clinical outcomes of 35 patients who underwent endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy for primary hyperhidrosis from 2008 to 2018 in Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery were reviewed.

RESULTS: The mean age of the patients was 27±10.1years, with male and female distribution of 18 and 17, respectively. Fifty-one percent of patients complained of palmar hyperhidrosis, while 35% of them had concurrent palmaraxillary and 14% had palmar-plantar-axillary hyperhidrosis. Our data showed that 77% (n=27) of patients were not investigated for secondary causes of hyperhidrosis, and they were not counselled on the non-surgical therapies. All patients underwent single-staged bilateral endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. There was resolution of symptoms in all 35 (100%) patients with palmar hyperhidrosis, 13(76%) patients with axillary hyperhidrosis and only 2 (50%) patients with plantar hyperhidrosis. Postoperatively 34.3% (n=12) of patients reported compensatory hyperhidrosis. There were no other complications such as pneumothorax, chylothorax, haemothorax and Horner's Syndrome.

CONCLUSION: Clinical evaluation of hyperhidrosis in local context has not been well described, which may inadvertently result in the delay of appropriate management, causing significant social and emotional embarrassment and impair the quality of life of the subjects. Detailed clinical assessment and appropriate timely treatment, be it surgical or non-surgical therapies, are crucial in managing this uncommon yet distressing disease.

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