Clinical presentation and management of arterial thoracic outlet syndrome

Chandu Vemuri, Lauren N. McLaughlin, Ahmmad A. Abuirqeba, Robert W. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Objective Arterial thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a rare condition characterized by subclavian artery pathology associated with a bony abnormality. This study assessed contemporary clinical management of arterial TOS at a high-volume referral center. Methods A prospectively maintained database was used to conduct a retrospective review of patients undergoing primary or reoperative treatment for arterial TOS during an 8-year period (2008 to 2016). Presenting characteristics, operative findings, and clinical and functional outcomes were evaluated. Results Forty patients underwent surgical treatment for arterial TOS, representing 3% of 1401 patients undergoing operations for all forms of TOS during the same interval. Patients were a mean age of 40.3 ± 2.2 years (range, 13-68 years), and 72% were women. More than half presented with upper extremity ischemia/emboli (n = 21) or posterior stroke (n = 2), including eight that had required urgent brachial artery thromboembolectomy. The presentation in 17 (42%) was nonvascular, with 11 having symptoms of neurogenic TOS and six having an asymptomatic neck mass or incidentally discovered subclavian artery dilatation. All patients underwent thoracic outlet decompression (25 supraclavicular, 15 paraclavicular), of which there were 30 (75%) with a cervical rib (24 complete, 6 partial), 5 with a first rib abnormality, 4 with a clavicle fracture, and 1 (reoperation) with no remaining bone abnormality. Subclavian artery reconstruction was performed in 70% (26 bypass grafts, 1 patch, 1 suture repair), and 30% had mild subclavian artery dilatation (<100%) requiring no arterial reconstruction. Mean postoperative length of stay was 5.4 ± 0.6 days. During a mean follow-up of 4.5 ± 0.4 years (range, 0.9-8.1 years), subclavian artery patency was 92%, none had further dilatation or embolism, and chronic symptoms were present in six (4 postischemic/vasospasm, 2 neurogenic). Functional outcomes measured by scores on the 11-item version of the Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand Outcome Measure improved from 39.1 ± 3.8 to 19.2 ± 2.7 (P <.0001). Conclusions This relatively large single-institution series demonstrates the diverse clinical presentation of arterial TOS coincident with a spectrum of bony and arterial pathology. Current surgical protocols can achieve excellent outcomes for this rare and often complicated condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1429-1439
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017


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