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Adolescent athletes can get back in the game after surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.

OBJECTIVE: We compared the functional outcomes among adolescent athletes with venous thoracic outlet syndrome (VTOS) and neurogenic TOS (NTOS) after thoracic outlet decompression.

METHODS: We performed a single-institution retrospective review of a prospective database of adolescent athletes (aged 13-19 years) from June 1, 1996 to December 31, 2021 who had undergone operative decompression for TOS. The demographic data, preoperative symptoms, operative details, and postoperative outcomes were compared. The primary outcome was the postoperative return to sport. The secondary outcomes included symptom resolution and assessment of the somatic pain scale, QuickDASH, and Derkash scores. The Fisher exact test and t test were used to evaluate the categorical and continuous variables, respectively. A logistic regression model was constructed to adjust for the influence of preoperative factors and return to sport.

RESULTS: A total of 60 patients (40.0% with VTOS and 60.0% with NTOS) were included. The average age of the VTOS patients was 17.2 years vs 16.6 years for the NTOS patients (P = .265). The NTOS patients were more likely to be female (88.9% vs 62.5%; P = .024). The NTOS patients had more frequently presented with pain (97.2% vs 70.8%; P = .005), paresthesia (94.4% vs 29.1%; P = .021), and weakness (67.7% vs 12.5%; P = .004) but had less often reported swelling (25.0% vs 95.8%; P < .001). At presentation, the NTOS patients had also reported a longer symptom duration (17.7 months vs 3.1 months; P < .001). Transaxillary first rib resection with subtotal scalenectomy was performed for 100% of the VTOS patients and 94.4% of the NTOS patients undergoing cervical rib resection (2.8%) or scalenectomy alone (2.8%). Additionally, 11.1% of the NTOS patients had undergone combined first rib resection and cervical rib resection. For the VTOS patients, postoperative venography showed patent subclavian veins in 27.8%. In addition, 44.4% had required venoplasty, 16.8% had required thrombolysis, and 11% were chronically occluded. No significant differences were found in blood loss, operative time, or length of stay between the groups. No surgical complications occurred. The average follow-up was 6.3 months. Significant differences were found between the VTOS and NTOS groups for the pre- and postoperative somatic pain scale, QuickDASH, and Derkash scores. Complete symptom resolution had occurred in 83.3% of the VTOS and 75% of the NTOS patients (P = .074). No statistically significant difference in the return to sport was observed between the two groups (VTOS, 94.4%; vs NTOS, 73.9%; P = .123). Of the NTOS patients, 10.0% had had other concomitant injuries and 5.0% had had medical conditions that had precluded their return to sport. Logistic regression found no significant relationship between the preoperative somatic pain scale score, QuickDASH score, or duration of symptoms and the return to sport.

CONCLUSIONS: Adolescent athletes with VTOS and NTOS can have good functional outcomes, and most will be able to return to sport after surgery. Greater initial symptom severity and concomitant injuries were observed in adolescents with NTOS. Of those who had not returned to sport postoperatively, three of seven had had unrelated health issues that had prevented their return to sport.

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