Background: Essential hyperhidrosis is characterized by overactivity of the sympathetic fibers passing through the upper-dorsal ganglia (second and third thoracic ganglia [D2-D3]), and the treatment of choice is video-assisted thoracoscopy sympathectomy. Alterations in cardiopulmonary function after treatment have been reported.
Study objective: To evaluate cardiopulmonary function impairment after sympathectomy in patients with essential hyperhidrosis.
Design and setting: Prospective controlled trial at a pulmonary function unit of a university hospital.
Patients: Twenty patients (2 men and 18 women) with essential hyperhidrosis.
Measurements and results: Pulmonary function tests, including spirometry and thoracic gas volume, bronchial challenge with methacholine, and maximal exercise, were performed before and 3 months after D2-D3 sympathectomy. Video-assisted sympathectomy was performed using a one-stage bilateral procedure with electrocoagulation of D2-D3 ganglia. Pulmonary function values (spirometrics and volumes) were not statistically different in the two groups. The maximal midexpiratory flow was the only variable that showed significant changes, from 101% (SD, 26%) to 92% (SD, 27%) [p < 0.05]. Ten patients had positive bronchial challenge test results that remained positive 3 months after surgery, and 2 patients whose challenge test results were negative before surgery became positive after sympathectomy. Significant reductions in maximal heart rate (HR) and oxygen and carbon dioxide uptakes were observed during the maximal exercise test.
Conclusions: Video-assisted thoracoscopy is a safe treatment, and the observed modifications in cardiopulmonary function only suggest a minimal small airway alterations in the presence of positive bronchial hyperresponsiveness and mild sympathetic blockade in HR. The clinical importance of these findings is not significant.