Compressed blood vessels and nerves
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
Thoracic outlet syndrome involves pinching and compression of the nerves and blood vessels in the space between the collarbone and the first rib. The doctors in our Vascular and Endovascular Program are recognized leaders in treating patients with disorders such as this, and we’re on the forefront of the most advanced treatment techniques available.
Thoracic outlet syndrome can cause swelling, discoloration, weakness, numbness or pain in the shoulder, arm and fingers. Sports that involve repeated shoulder movement, such as baseball or swimming, may increase your risk, as can injuries to the back or neck, poor posture or defects defects present from birth.
There are a number of types of thoracic outlet syndrome, including axillo-subclavian vein thrombosis. Without proper treatment, the condition can lead to serious problems, including death of tissue (gangrene), blood clots or a pulmonary embolism.
Your doctor will try to reproduce your symptoms by having you move your arms, neck and shoulders in various positions. You also may need one or more tests to confirm a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome.
An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.
Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart and chest wall.
The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.
Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.
Physical therapy and medications may help relieve your symptoms and reduce your risk of a dangerous blood clot. If these approaches aren’t enough, you may need a surgical procedure called thoracic outlet decompression.
Learn how MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute uses thoracic outlet decompression to treat thoracic outlet syndrome.