Management of unresolved, recurrent, and/or contralateral neurogenic symptoms in patients following first rib resection and scalenectomy.

Danielle H. Rochlin, Kendall C. Likes, Marta M. Gilson, Paul J. Christo, Julie A. Freischlag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Surgical treatment for neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome does not always yield successful outcomes. The purpose of this study was to describe patients with unresolved, recurrent, and/or contralateral symptoms following first rib resection and scalenectomy (FRRS) and to determine therapies for improving their outcomes. Data on 161 neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome patients (182 FRRS procedures) were prospectively collected from 2003 to 2011 and retrospectively reviewed for evidence of unresolved, recurrent, and/or contralateral neurogenic symptoms following FRRS. Demographic and clinical characteristics, interventions, and outcomes were compared between these patients and those with a successful result. Twenty-three patients (24 FRRS) had unresolved symptoms at a mean of 16.1 ± 14.7 postoperative months. Compared with successes, these patients were older (mean age, 45 vs 38 years; P = .002) and active smokers (33% vs 13%; P = .031), with a longer duration of symptoms (90 vs 48 months; P = .005). They had higher rates of chronic pain syndromes (67% vs 14%; P < .001), neck and/or shoulder comorbidities (58% vs 22%; P < .001), preoperative opioid use (67% vs 31%; P = .001), and preoperative Botox injections (46% vs 20%; P = .009) with less relief (18% vs 64%; P = .014). Sixteen patients had recurrent symptoms at a mean of 12.1 ± 9.7 postoperative months. These patients had more chronic pain syndromes (38%; P = .028) and neck and/or shoulder comorbidities (50%; P = .027), with recurrence secondary to scar tissue (69%; P < .001) and reinjury (31%; P = .002). Postoperative treatments for both groups included physical therapy and local injections, where six unresolved (26%) and 13 recurrent (81%) patients achieved freedom from opioids at the end of the follow-up period. Twenty-one patients had contralateral symptoms and underwent secondary FRRS at a mean of 15.0 months (range, 7-30 months) following primary FRRS. The first operation was successful in 90% of cases. Patients with unresolved symptoms are older, active smokers with more comorbid pain syndromes, neck and/or shoulder disease, and a longer symptom duration. These patients face a more difficult recovery, whereas patients with recurrent symptoms are well managed with physical therapy and Botox injections. Patients with contralateral symptoms at >1 year are effectively treated with secondary FRRS. Patients must be followed closely after FRRS to determine if additional interventions are necessary to ensure successful results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1067; discussion 1068
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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