Coexistence of arterial compression in patients with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome

Kendall Likes, Danielle H. Rochlin, Diana Call, Julie A. Freischlag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE Patients with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (NTOS) may have signs and symptoms of arterial compromise without thrombosis or aneurysm.

OBJECTIVE To evaluate these patients' presentation, duration of signs and symptoms, and outcomes of immediate surgical operation.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Demographic and clinical data for patients with NTOS and signs and symptoms of arterial compromise without arterial thrombosis or aneurysm were extracted from a prospectively maintained, institutional review board-approved database and patient medical records between May 22, 2003, and October 16, 2012, in the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions' Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery.

INTERVENTIONS All patients received immediate first rib resection and scalenectomy (FRRS) (n = 15), cervical rib resection and FRRS (n = 6), or FRRS and second rib resection due to fusion (n = 1). Further physical therapy or anterior scalene block was not considered owing to arterial compression.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Surgical intervention relieved arterial and neurogenic symptoms, and abnormal duplex velocities returned to normal in adduction.

RESULTS Twenty-two patients (13 women and 9 men; mean age, 25 years [range, 12-41 years]) presented with the following signs and symptoms a mean of 37 months (range, 1-144 months) after developing symptoms of NTOS: arm discoloration (n = 15), infraclavicular bruit with arm abduction (n = 9), more than 50% change in subclavian artery velocity in abduction by duplex scan (n = 12), cervical rib (n = 6), abnormal first rib (n = 3), and/or history of embolization (n = 2). In addition, 2 patients had venous thrombosis. The mean follow-up time was 11 months (range, 1-34 months), and all patient outcomes improved in the postoperative period.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Arterial compression can coexist with NTOS and can be elucidated in most patients by medical record review and physical examination, along with confirmation by a duplex scan. Those with evidence of arterial compression and for whom physical therapy has failed should receive surgery to alleviate their symptoms. Prompt surgical intervention affords good outcomes in these patients. Outcomes for patients with NTOS and arterial compression following immediate surgical intervention were previously unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1240-1243
Number of pages4
JournalJAMA surgery
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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