The amount of compensatory sweating depends on the patient, the damage that the white rami communicans incurs, and the amount of cell body reorganization in the spinal cord after surgery.
Other potential complications include inadequate resection of the ganglia, gustatory sweating, pneumothorax, cardiac dysfunction, post-operative pain, and finally Horner’s syndrome secondary to resection of the stellate ganglion.

After severing the cervical sympathetic trunk, the cells of the cervical sympathetic ganglion undergo transneuronic degeneration
After severing the sympathetic trunk, the cells of its origin undergo complete disintegration within a year.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gustatory sweating, flushing and other responses after sympathectomy

Gustatory sweating on the head, neck and arms, often occurs after cervico-thoracic sympathectomy. Haxton (1948) reported an incidence of 36 percent, the same as in the present series. It was thought that some information about regeneration in the cervical sympathetic might be revealed by investigation of this surgical curiosity.
Although sweating is the common gustatory response after cervical sympathectomy, other changes are experienced. Haxton (1948) described associated paresthesia and flushing, gooseflesh may occur (Herxheimer, 1958) and vaso-constriction is reported in this paper. These occur together or separately and occasionally sweating might be absent. The subject has been confused by comparison with post-parotidectomy gustatory sweating which has a different mechanism (Glaister et al.,1958; Bloor, 1958).

Sweating is produced by cholinergic sympathetic fibres. In normal individuals both vasocontriction and gooseflesh are adrenergic. This also holds in gustatory responses.  Figure 2 shows blocking of sweating by atropine, whilst gooseflesh continues unchanged.
   The tingling sensations were described as being unlike normal sensation, and likened to plucking out of hair. In one patient in was so unpleasant that she refused to take a test stimulus. Flushing usually occurs on the upper chest and neck, and is an erythema with sharp demarcation, not associated with a rise in skin temperature.
   Of the patients, 29 were found to have gustatory responses, and 24 were studied in detail. Of 22 patients with sweating who could be studied, 11 had gooseflesh, 10 tingling, 6 flushing, and 4 vasoconstriction. Four patients, however, had no sweating and their gustator responses consisted of gooseflesh and tingling in one, tingling alone, and flushing in two. None of these four showed vasoconstriction.
   The stimulus for testing used was usually Worcester sauce, but specificity of the response was sometimes great, and one patient reacted only to boiled sweets made by one particular firm.   &