Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS)

ETS involves the dissection of the main sympathetic trunk of the sympathetic nervous system. This procedure is performed at the Northern Ontario Surgical Centre in our private Operating Room under general anaesthesia. By disrupting neural messages from the sympathetic nervous system, the body’s response to changes in the environment is altered. Success rates vary according to the treatment area. Long term sweat reduction for palms is 98%, underarms is 94%, while  hyperhidrosis of the feet improve in 50% of patients.

During the procedure, the surgeon makes 2-3 small incisions under each arm. A tiny camera is inserted into the patient’s chest, enabling the surgeon to perform the surgery endoscopically. Air is used to gently push the lung aside to expose the nerve controlling sweat glands in the hand and underarm. The nerve is destroyed, the lung is returned to its original state and position and the incisions are closed. The process is then carried out on the other side.

As with any surgery, there are potential risks including infection, bruising, swelling, loss of sensation in the underarms, and scarring from the incisions. ETS also carries the potential risk of causing “compensatory sweating”, which is excessive sweating in other areas of the body

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