Thoracic outlet decompression for subclavian vein thrombosis: Experience in 71 patients

Vasu Divi, Mary C. Proctor, David A. Axelrod, Lazar J. Greenfield

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Hypothesis: There is a difference in outcomes when patients have neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome in addition to subclavian vein thrombosis. Methods: Analysis of a prospectively developed database, medical record review, and a patient questionnaire were used to summarize clinical experience from December 1990 to December 2001 on the basis of the patient's original evaluation. Patients were stratified on the presence (group 1) or absence (group 2) of additional neurogenic pathologic features. Results: Of 928 patients evaluated for thoracic outlet syndrome, 71 underwent 73 operative procedures for subclavian vein obstruction. Men predominated (55%), and the mean age was 32 years. Group 1 (41%) had more preoperative disability, a higher incidence of persistent pain (24%), and less likelihood of returning to full activity compared with group 2 (67% vs 93%; P = .01). Catheter-directed thrombolysis was used in 65% of veins. Preoperative balloon angioplasty was used selectively (34%), and only 4% required stents. Supraclavicular decompression and venolysis were usually delayed 3 weeks to allow for healing of the venous endothelium. Complications included wound infection (3%) and postoperative hematoma (8%). Conclusions: Patients with isolated subclavian vein obstruction have a more favorable outcome relative to those with combined neurogenic and venous pathologic features. Decompression following thrombolysis should be delayed to reduce the incidence of postoperative complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-57
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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