Type of Surgery
Last updated: 11/24/2009
A reversible block of the affected nerve cell (ganglion) determines if sympathectomy is needed. This procedure interrupts nerve impulses by injecting the ganglion with a steroid and anesthetic. If the block has a positive effect on pain and blood flow...
in the affected area, the sympathectomy will probably be helpful. The surgical procedure should be performed only if conservative treatment has not been effective. Conservative treatment includes avoiding exposure to stress and cold, and the use of physical therapy and medications.
Sympathectomy is most likely to be effective in relieving reflex sympathetic dystrophy if it is performed soon after the injury occurs. The increased benefit of early surgery must be balanced against the time needed to promote spontaneous recovery and responses to more conservative treatments.
Patients should discuss expected results and possible risks with their surgeons. They should inform their surgeons of all medications they are taking, and provide a complete medical history. Candidates for surgery should have good general health. To improve general health, a surgical candidate may be asked to lose weight, give up smoking or alcohol, and get the proper amount of sleep and exercise. Immediately before the surgery, patients will not be permitted to eat or drink, and the surgical site will be cleaned and scrubbed.
In this video, the basic building block of the nervous system, the neuron, is described. Countless neurons are joined and organized to form the nervous system, also described in this animation.
Sympathectomy is a surgical procedure that destroys nerves in the sympathetic nervous system. The procedure is done to increase blood flow and decrease long-term pain in certain diseases that cause narrowed blood vessels. It can also be used to decrease excessive sweating. This surgical procedure cuts or destroys the sympathetic ganglia, collections of nerve cell bodies in clusters along the thoracic or lumbar spinal cord.
More than 60 percent of procedures neurosurgeons perform are spine-related, according to the National Neurosurgical Procedural Statistics 2006 Survey from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS).
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