Objective: We assessed the clinical presentation, operative findings, and surgical treatment outcomes for axillary-subclavian vein (AxSCV) thrombosis due to venous thoracic outlet syndrome (VTOS). Methods: We performed a retrospective, single-center review of 266 patients who had undergone primary surgical treatment of VTOS between 2016 and 2022. The clinical outcomes were compared between the patients in four treatment groups determined by intraoperative venography. Results: Of the 266 patients, 132 were male and 134 were female. All patients had a history of spontaneous arm swelling and idiopathic AxSCV thrombosis, including 25 (9%) with proven pulmonary embolism, at a mean age of 32.1 ± 0.8 years (range, 12-66 years). The timing of clinical presentation was acute (<15 days) for 132 patients (50%), subacute (15-90 days) for 71 (27%), and chronic (>90 days) for 63 patients (24%). Venography with catheter-directed thrombolysis or thrombectomy (CDT) and/or balloon angioplasty had been performed in 188 patients (71%). The median interval between symptom onset and surgery was 78 days. After paraclavicular thoracic outlet decompression and external venolysis, intraoperative venography showed a widely patent AxSCV in 150 patients (56%). However, 26 (10%) had a long chronic AxSCV occlusion with axillary vein inflow insufficient for bypass reconstruction. Patch angioplasty was performed for focal AxSCV stenosis in 55 patients (21%) and bypass graft reconstruction for segmental AxSCV occlusion in 35 (13%). The patients who underwent external venolysis alone (patent or occluded AxSCV; n = 176) had a shorter mean operative time, shorter postoperative length of stay and fewer reoperations and late reinterventions compared with those who underwent AxSCV reconstruction (patch or bypass; n = 90), with no differences in the incidence of overall complications or 30-day readmissions. At a median clinical follow-up of 38.7 months, 246 patients (93%) had no arm swelling, and only 17 (6%) were receiving anticoagulation treatment; 95% of those with a patent AxSCV at the end of surgery were free of arm swelling vs 69% of those with a long chronic AxSCV occlusion (P < .001). The patients who had undergone CDT at the initial diagnosis were 32% less likely to need AxSCV reconstruction at surgery (30% vs 44%; P = .034) and 60% less likely to have arm swelling at follow-up (5% vs 13%; P < .05) vs those who had not undergone CDT. Conclusions: Paraclavicular decompression, external venolysis, and selective AxSCV reconstruction determined by intraoperative venography findings can provide successful and durable treatment for >90% of all patients with VTOS. Further work is needed to achieve earlier recognition of AxSCV thrombosis, prompt usage of CDT, and even more effective surgical treatment.
- Catheter-directed thrombolysis
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Paget-Schroetter syndrome
- Surgical treatment
- Upper extremity