Safety and efficacy of the supraclavicular approach to thoracic outlet decompression

Thomas S. Maxey, T. Brett Reece, Peter I. Ellman, Curtis G. Tribble, Nancy Harthun, Irving L. Kron, John A. Kern, Harold C. Urschel, Joseph I. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background. Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a clinical diagnosis encountered by both thoracic and vascular surgeons. The goal of surgical therapy involves relieving compression of the neurovascular structures at the superior thoracic aperture. The traditional approach to thoracic outlet decompression has been transaxillary; however more centers are moving toward a more tailored approach through a supraclavicular incision. Methods. The medical records of 67 patients who underwent surgical decompression between 1993 and 2001 for TOS were retrospectively reviewed. Patient demographics and early outcome were assessed through clinic follow-up. Results. Seventy-two thoracic outlet decompressions were performed on 67 patients with the diagnosis of TOS. Five patients underwent bilateral thoracic outlet decompression. All operations in this time period were safely accomplished through a supraclavicular approach. The syndromes associated with thoracic outlet compression were neurogenic (n = 59), venous (n = 10), and arterial (n = 3). Forty-six of 72 (63.9%) operations resulted in complete resolution of symptoms, 17 cases (23.6%) had partial resolution, and 9 patients (12.5%) had no resolution. There were no deaths and morbidity was minimal with 6 complications (8.3%). Conclusions. The supraclavicular approach is a safe and effective technique in managing all forms of thoracic outlet compression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-400
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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