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Heart & Vascular Institute

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Center

Man grasping his shoulder in pain

At Temple, our doctors are specialists in thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), a rare vascular disease. When you have TOS, you may have pain in the shoulder, arm and neck, with loss of grip strength and dexterity. This is caused by compression of nerves or blood vessels passing from the chest to the arm through the “thoracic outlet.”

Why You Need A Specialist for Diagnosis

TOS can be difficult for non-specialists to diagnose. It can have various causes and a wide range of symptoms. But our multidisciplinary team has extensive experience in diagnosing thoracic outlet syndrome correctly.

Your physician will conduct a thorough physical examination and, if needed, perform advanced diagnostic tests such as angiography and electromyography.

Based on the cause and severity of the condition, we can recommend a range of options to relieve symptoms.

Treatment Options

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

Physical Therapy and Medication

Physical therapy and/or medication are often all that a patient needs to relieve their symptoms. Our skilled physical therapists help patients manage and relieve their symptoms. Medication may reduce inflammation that is narrowing the thoracic outlet.

Minimally Invasive Methods

The surgical team must make careful decisions that involve many body systems. The right experience and an interdisciplinary perspective are important.

Temple 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.

Decompression Surgery

In some cases we may offer alternative options like decompression surgery. This is when TOS is too advanced or doesn't respond to physical therapy or medication.

Decompression surgery involves removing the first rib, scar tissue compressing the nerves, and muscles or other structures pressing on the vessels and nerves.

A Skilled Multidisciplinary Team

Specialists from several clinical areas work together to treat patients with this complex condition, ensuring informed decision-making and a continuum of care. Those clinical areas include:

  • Vascular surgery
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation
  • Interventional pain management
  • Neurosurgery
  • Thoracic surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Interventional cardiology
  • Orthopaedics and sports medicine

Request an appointment online or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536).