The following study focuses on Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (NTOS) is no longer either “controversial” or “disputed”; however, its optimal surgical management remains unclear. Many thoracic outlet decompression procedures are performed by first rib resection, usually via a transaxillary route.

A retrospective review of a prospectively maintained NTOS database was performed. Patients with NTOS associated with a cervical rib and those with recurrent NTOS were excluded from the present analysis. All study patients had satisfied a 5-point clinical diagnostic protocol and had experienced a positive response to a local anesthetic scalene block. Surgical decompression included anterior, minimus, and middle scalenectomy and brachial plexus neurolysis via a supraclavicular incision and pectoralis minor tenotomy through a small vertical infraclavicular incision. No first ribs were excised. All the patients had completed QuickDASH (11-item version of the Disability of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire) preoperatively and at 3 or 6 months postoperatively. These results suggest that (1) adherence to a rigorous preoperative diagnostic regimen, including performance of a scalene block, ensures, at the least, that surgery for NTOS can be successfully restricted to patients actually with the condition; (2) fibrotic, contracted scalene muscles are the cause of NTOS; (3) the first rib does not require removal for successful surgical treatment of NTOS; and (4) 90% of the patients so treated can expect significant early symptomatic and functional improvement.

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