Annals of Vascular Surgery

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 293–298 | Cite as

An historical look at the thoracic outlet compression syndrome

  • Wiley F. Barker
Papers from the Southern California Vascular Surgical Society


The story of the thoracic outlet compression syndrome begins with the identification of the anatomical abnormality of the cervical rib, and the symptoms related to it. Resection of the cervical rib, however, was soon followed by the recognition that symptoms could occur in the absence of a cervical rib. The scalenus anticus was then held to be the culprit, although several different mechanisms were advanced to explain the development of symptoms. Subsets of the thoracic outlet compression syndrome were then codified; costoclavicular compression; compression under the coracoid process during hyperabduction; primary symptoms related to arterial compression; and the syndrome that appears when neural and arterial compression are absent but venous occlusion is present. The importance of the first rib as a common denominator has brought about the idea that first rib resection is the best method of extirpating this common anatomic factor. That thesis is not accepted universally, however.

Key Words

Thoracic outlet compression scalenus anticus muscle cervical ribs 


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Copyright information

© Annals of Vascular Surgery Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wiley F. Barker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, CHS 72-215UCLA School of MedicineLos AngelesUSA

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