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Thoracoscopic Sympathectomy


The sympathetic nerve chain runs down the back of the chest, parallel to the spine. These nerves are responsible for the production of sweat, which helps the body stay cool. Excessive sweating in the hands, underarms and soles of the feet is called primary hyperhidrosis. This condition can be uncomfortable, stressful and even be embarrassing to some.

Find Relief For Severe Hyperhidrosis

The minimally invasive lung and esophageal specialists at Dignity Health Sacramento offers our patients the option of thoracoscopic sympathectomy in severe cases of primary hyperhidrosis when medication and special antiperspirants fail.

Secondary hyperhidrosis is the result of an underlying medical condition. In this case, sweating may occur all over the body, or localized in only one area of the body.

Conditions that cause secondary hyperhidrosis include:

  • Anxiety
  • Certain medications
  • Heart disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Lung disease
  • Menopause
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Tuberculosis

The underlying condition causing secondary hyperhidrosis will need to be treated, and this may alleviate the excessive sweating.

How Does Thoracoscopic Sympathectomy Differ From Traditional Surgery?

In conventional open surgery, a large incision is made so the surgeon can clip a section of the sympathetic nerve chain to permanently stop the nerve signal that causes excessive sweating.

In contrast, Dignity Health surgeons perform minimally invasive thoracoscopic sympathectomy with only a few small incisions in the chest:

  • The surgeon inserts a small camera (laparoscope) and specialized instruments through the incisions, and the operating area then can be seen on a large monitor in the operating room.
  • Cauterization (cutting and sealing or clipping) of the sympathetic nerves of the ganglion permanently interrupts the nerve signal causing excessive sweating.
  • The surgeon closes the incisions.

Thoracoscopic sympathectomy is performed while you are under general anesthesia and you will only need to stay in the hospital a short time before going home.

Benefits Of Thoracoscopic Sympathectomy

While all surgery results in some pain and discomfort, minimally invasive surgery means:

  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery
  • Less blood loss, pain and scarring
  • Less risk of infection and post-operative complications

See a Lung & Esophageal Surgical Specialist

You may be a candidate for thoracoscopic sympathectomy. For a referral to a Dignity Health specialist, please call 888.253.1704.