Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

The thoracic outlet is located at the base of the neck. It is where the major blood vessels and nerves to the arm leave the chest and neck. On their path to the arm the blood vessels and nerves pass through a space bounded by the 1st rib, the clavicle ("collar bone") and the scalene muscles.

There are 3 subgroups of thoracic outlet syndrome:

  • Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (nTOS)
  • Venous Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (vTOS)
  • Arterial Thoracic Outlet Sydnrome (aTOS)

These conditions manifest in different ways. Neurogenic TOS can result in pain, numbness, tingling or weakness of the arm. Venous TOS can manifest with pain, swelling and discolouration of the arm. Arterial TOS can manifest with pain, coldness and discolouration of the hand together with cramping of the forearm with exertion.

Investigations may be required to investigate these symptoms, including:

  • X-rays
  • Doppler ultrasounds
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • CT scans
  • Catheter angiograms

The treatment required for your condition depends on the cause and the severity of your symptoms. Surgery may be required to correct the underlying cause of the thoracic outlet syndrome.