Treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome.


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Abstract

BACKGROUNDThoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is one of the most controversial clinical entities in medicine. Despite many reports of operative and non-operative interventions, rigorous scientific investigation of this syndrome leading to evidence based management is lacking.OBJECTIVETo evaluate the beneficial and adverse effects of the available operative and non-operative interventions for the treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome.METHODSFour authors independently selected the trials to be included and extracted data. The one included study was rated for risk of bias according to the methods recommended in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.RESULTSThis review was complicated by a lack of generally accepted criteria for the diagnosis of TOS and had to rely exclusively on the diagnosis of TOS by the investigators in the reviewed studies. There were no studies comparing natural progression with any active intervention. In one trial with a high risk of bias involving 55 participants transaxillary first rib resection decreased pain more than supraclavicular neuroplasty of the brachial plexus. There were no adverse effects in either group.CONCLUSIONSThis review was complicated by a lack of generally accepted diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of TOS. There was very low quality evidence that transaxillary first rib resection decreased pain more than supraclavicular neuroplasty but no randomized evidence that either is better than no treatment. There is no randomized evidence to support the use of other currently used treatments. There is a need for an agreed definition for the diagnosis of TOS, especially the disputed form, agreed outcome measures and high quality randomized trials that compare the outcome of interventions with no treatment and with each other.

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