The Society of Thoracic Surgeons Expert Consensus for the Surgical Treatment of Hyperhidrosis
Significant controversies surround the optimal treatment of primary hyperhidrosis of the hands, axillae, feet, and face. The world’s literature on hyperhidrosis from 1991 to 2009 was obtained through PubMed. There were 1,097 published articles, of which 102 were clinical trials. Twelve were randomized clinical trials and 90 were nonrandomized comparative studies. After review and discussion by task force members of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ General Thoracic Workforce, expert consensus was reached from which specific treatment strategies are suggested. These studies suggest that primary hyperhidrosis of the extremities, axillae or face is best treated by endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS). Interruption of the sympathetic chain can be achieved either by electrocautery or clipping. An international nomenclature should be adopted that refers to the rib levels (R) instead of the vertebral level at which the nerve is interrupted, and how the chain is interrupted, along with systematic pre and postoperative assessments of sweating pattern, intensity and quality-of-life. The recent body of literature suggests that the highest success rates occur when interruption is performed at the top of R3 or the top of R4 for palmar-only hyperhidrosis. R4 may offer a lower incidence of compensatory hyperhidrosis but moister hands. For palmar and axillary, palmar, axillary and pedal and for axillary-only hyperhidrosis interruptions at R4 and R5 are recommended. The top of R3 is best for craniofacial hyperhidrosis.