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Clinical Services at Rush Hyperhidrosis

What is Hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is a condition causing excessive sweating in the hands, armpits or feet of the affected individuals, and is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. Medical therapies to treat this condition include salves, electrical stimulation and medications, and surgery is reserved for cases resistant to medical interventions.

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How is Hyperhidrosis Treated?

University Thoracic Surgeons offers a well-recognized procedure to correct hyperhidrosis called thoracoscopic sympathectomy, also known as endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS). This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which one or more levels of the thoracic sympathetic chain ganglion are surgically destroyed. These ganglia are bundles of nerve cells that link together to form a long, longitudinal chain in the chest cavity, with a nerve branch then coming off each of these ganglions and traveling to blood vessels and sweat glands throughout the body. Interruption of this passage blocks sweating in that area of body supplied by a particular ganglion.

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How Does Thoracoscopy Work?

During the surgery, the lung on the side being operated on is deflated, and the surgeon makes two very small incisions under the armpit to access the sympathetic chain, and uses instruments such as electrocautery and surgical clips to destroy it using thoracoscopy. Thoracoscopy is a minimally invasive technique that involves making tiny incisions in the side of the chest rather than the standard larger chest incisions, and using long instruments and a small camera inserted through the small incisions to perform the surgery. The surgeon may then opt to place a very small drainage tube to drain any air or fluid that develops in the chest cavity after surgery, which is then removed prior to being discharged from the hospital within about 12 to 24 hours.

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