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Heart & Vascular Institute

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Center

Temple’s depth of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of the full range of vascular disease includes thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which a patient may have pain in the shoulder, arm and neck with loss of grip strength and dexterity caused by compression of nerves or blood vessels passing from the chest to the arm through the “thoracic outlet”. Specialists in the Temple Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Center are dedicated to diagnosing and treating patients with this complex group of disorders, helping to reduce their discomfort and avoid potential complications.

An Uncommon Diagnosis

The symptoms associated with thoracic outlet syndrome can have various causes and a wide range of symptoms, making it difficult for non-specialists to diagnose it correctly. Temple’s multidisciplinary team has extensive experience pinpointing thoracic outlet syndrome through physical examinations and, when necessary, advanced diagnostic tests such as angiography and electromyography. Based on the cause and severity of the condition, they can recommend a range of options to relieve symptoms.

Integrated Treatment

Often, physical therapy and/or medication are all that a patient requires to help relieve their symptoms. Temple’s physical therapists are skilled at helping patients manage and relieve the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, and medication may reduce inflammation that is narrowing the thoracic outlet.

In the rare cases in which thoracic outlet syndrome does not respond to these treatments, or is too advanced, Temple may offer alternative options like decompression surgery. This procedure can involve removing the first rib, scar tissue compressing the nerves, and accessory muscles or other structures pressing on the vessels and nerves. The surgical team must make careful decisions that involve multiple body systems, so experience and an interdisciplinary perspective are important. Temple’s vascular specialists can also repair blood vessels damaged by thoracic outlet syndrome, often using minimally invasive methods. Procedures such as angioplasty may allow them to reopen narrowed blood vessels.

A Skilled Multidisciplinary Team

Specialists from multiple clinical areas such as vascular surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, interventional pain management, neurosurgery, thoracic surgery, plastic surgery, interventional cardiology, orthopaedics and sports medicine, work together to treat patients with this complex condition, ensuring informed decision-making and a continuum of care.

Learn More About Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Temple vascular surgeon Scott Golarz, MD, discusses thoracic outlet syndrome surgery and the available treatment options for this condition.