Selective botulinum chemodenervation of the scalene muscles for treatment of neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome

Sheldon E. Jordan, Samuel S. Ahn, Julie A. Freischlag, Hugh A. Gelabert, Herbert I. Machleder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Scopus citations


Patients with thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) who improve temporarily after anesthetic blockade of the anterior scalene muscles have been shown to improve after ultimate surgical decompressions at the interscalene triangle. Anesthetic blockade of the scalene muscles, even with the addition of steroids, however, rarely produces any prolonged relief as patients are awaiting definitive surgery. The present study was undertaken to determine if more effective and prolonged relief might be obtained with electrophysiologically and fluoroscopically guided selective injection of the scalene muscles with botulinum toxin, which has been used in the past for treating conditions associated with spasm of cervical muscles. In 14 of 22 patients (64%) with a clinical diagnosis of TOS, there was more than a 50% reduction of symptoms measured by a 101-point scale for at least 1 month after botulinum chemodenervation of the scalene muscles. Only 4 of the 22 patients (18%) had a 50% reduction of symptoms for at least 1 month after injection with lidocaine and steroids. In no patient were the results of lidocaine and steroid injection superior to botulinum chemodenervation. Chemodenervation had a mean duration of effect of 88 days. No significant side effects were encountered with botulinum chemodenervation except for mild transient dysphagia in two cases. These results appear to demonstrate that botulinum chemodenervation of the scalene muscles may be helpful in alleviating symptoms in patients with TOS awaiting definitive surgical decompression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-369
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Vascular Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Cite this