Skip to Content

Endoscopic Sympathectomy

UPMC Content 3

What Is an Endoscopic Sympathectomy?

An endoscopic sympathectomy is a minimally invasive spine surgery used to treat:

  • Hyperhidrosis (sweaty hands and feet)
  • Facial blushing
  • Social phobia
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Other conditions caused by portions of the sympathetic nerve trunk in the spine being destroyed.

Sympathetic Nerve Trunk Regions

The sympathetic nerve trunk is divided into three sections:

  • Cervical (neck area)
  • Thoracic (chest area)
  • Lumbar (lower back area)

Endoscopic sympathectomy can be used to treat all three regions. The most common form of this procedure is endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) surgery. This state-of-the-art procedure allows for a quicker and more comfortable recovery for patients when compared to traditional spine surgeries.

What to expect during an endoscopic sympathectomy

During the procedure, the surgeon makes a tiny incision in the back, where two small instruments will be inserted. An endoscope allows the surgeon to view the area, and a dissecting tool is used to clamp off the problem nerves. This procedure clamps nerves rather than removing them, allowing the surgeon to reverse the procedure if side effects are too bothersome for the patient. Though the need for reversal is rare, using clamps gives patients this option.

Endoscopic sympathectomy recovery

Most patients leave the hospital within hours after the surgery and typically have a minimal recovery period. Most patients can return to their normal activity within days of the surgery.​​