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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a group of disorders that occur when the blood vessels or nerves in the space between the collarbone and the first rib become compressed. This can cause pain in the neck and shoulders and numbness in fingers. Typically, physical treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome usually involves physical therapy and pain relief measures, but sometimes surgery is needed.

Tests & Diagnosis

Physical examination is when your doctor will conduct a general physical exam to look for visual indications of disease, such as swelling or color change.

Imaging tests: Physicians use a combination of X-ray, MRI, PET, and CT scans to view your entire chest in order to accurately diagnose thoracic outlet syndrome.

Provocation tests is when a doctor tries to induce certain symptoms in an effort to rule out other conditions. You will be asked to move your limbs and neck in order to temporarily aggravate the condition.

Arteriography and venography is when a tiny catheter is inserted through a blood vessel in your groin and guided to the affected area. Dye is injected and X-rays are taken in order to view your blood vessels.

Treatments

Transaxillary surgery involves removing a portion of your first rib to relieve compression of nerves or vessels in that area.