Thoracic: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome| Volume 162, ISSUE 4, P1297-1305.e1, October 2021

Safety of robotic first rib resection for thoracic outlet syndrome

Published:September 03, 2020DOI:



      Robotic first rib resection (R-FRR) is an emerging approach in the field of thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) that has technical advantages over traditional open approaches, including superior exposure of the first rib and freedom from retracting neurovascular structures. We set out to define the safety of R-FRR and compare it with that of the conventional supraclavicular approach (SC-FRR).


      We queried a prospectively maintained, single-surgeon, single-institution database for all FRR operations performed for neurogenic TOS and venous TOS. Preoperative, intraoperative, and complications were compared between approaches.


      Seventy-two R-FRRs and 51 SC-FRRs were performed in 66 and 50 patients, respectively. These groups were not significantly different in age, body mass index, sex, type of TOS, or preoperative use of opioids. Length of procedure and hospital stay were not different between groups. Postoperative inpatient self-reported pain (visual analog scale score 4.7 vs 5.2; P = .049) and administered morphine milligram equivalents (37.5 vs 81.1 MME, P < .001) were significantly lower in R-FRR than SC-FRR. Brachial plexus palsy was less frequent after R-FRR than SC-FRR (1% vs 18%, P = .002) and resolved by 4 months in call cases. All cases were sensory palsies with the exception of 2 motor palsies, which were both in the SC-FRR group. In multivariable analyses, R-FRR was independently associated with less frequent total complications than SC-FRR (P = .002; odds ratio, 0.08; 95% confidence interval, 0.02-0.39).


      R-FRR provides outstanding exposure of the first rib and eliminates retraction of the brachial plexus and its consequences.

      Key Words

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      FRR (first rib resection), ICS (intercostal space), MME (morphine milligram equivalent), PCA (patient-controlled analgesia), PT (physical therapy), nTOS (neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome), R-FRR (robotic transthoracic first rib resection), SC-FRR (supraclavicular first rib resection), TOS (thoracic outlet syndrome), VAS (visual analog scale), vTOS (venous thoracic outlet syndrome)
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