NORD gratefully acknowledges Richard J Sanders, MD, Clinical Professor of Surgery, University of Colorado Medical School and Presbyterian/St.Lukes Medical Center, for the preparation of this report.
Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a condition presenting with arm complaints of pain, numbness, tingling and weakness. The cause is pressure in the neck against the nerves and blood vessels that go to the arm.
There are three types of TOS depending on which structure is being compressed:
1. Neurogenic TOS-nerve compression comprises 95% of all TOS patients
2. Venous TOS-compression of the main vein comprises 4% of all TOS patients
3. Arterial TOS-compression of the main artery comprises less than 1% of all TOS patients
4. Vascular TOS is a term sometimes used but there is no such entity as vascular TOS. The term refers to TOS due either to compression of an artery or vein (arterial or venous TOS). The appropriate terms, arterial or venous, should be employed and the term vascular discarded.
The three types of TOS are very different from each other. Each will be described separately.
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