What is sympathectomy?
Sympathectomy is a surgical procedure that destroys nerves in the sympathetic nervous system. The procedure is done to increase blood flow and decrease long-term pain in certain diseases that cause narrowed blood vessels.
How is the sympathectomy performed?
Sympathectomy was traditionally done as an inpatient surgical procedure under general anesthesia. An incision was made on the mid-back, exposing the ganglia to be cut. Recent techniques are less invasive and may be done under local anesthesia and as outpatient surgery. If only one arm or leg is affected, it may be treated with a percutaneous radiofrequency technique. In this technique, the surgeon locates the ganglia by a combination of x ray and electrical stimulation. The ganglia are destroyed by applying radio waves through electrodes on the skin.
How long does it take to notice results?
The effects of this procedure will be seen almost immediately.
As always you will want to consult with your pain specialist, but in general, Those patients with previous chest surgery or significant pulmonary disease may not be candidates. Patients at risk for severe side effects should also not be operated on.