Does surgical sympathectomy improve clinical outcomes in patients with refractory angina pectoris?
Holland LC., Navaratnarajah M., Taggart DP.
A best evidence topic in cardiothoracic surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was: In patients with angina pectoris refractory to medical therapy, does surgical sympathectomy improve clinical outcomes? A total of 528 papers were identified using the search protocol described, of which 6 represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. There were 5 case series and 1 prospective cohort study. The authors, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes and results of these papers are tabulated. All 5 of the case series demonstrated an improvement in symptoms, exercise tolerance or quality of life in patients undergoing surgical sympathectomy. An early case series investigating an open approach had a high morbidity and mortality rate, but the 4 other series used a minimally invasive technique and had low morbidity and zero perioperative mortality rates. The cohort study compared surgical sympathectomy with transmyocardial laser revascularization (TMR) and concluded TMR to be superior. However, this study looked only at unilateral sympathectomy, whereas all 5 case series focused on bilateral surgery. We conclude that the best currently available evidence does suggest that patients report an improvement in their symptoms and quality of life following surgical sympathectomy, but the low level of this evidence does not allow for a statistically proved recommendation.