3 The procedure
3.1 The aim of endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) for primary facial blushing is to reduce the frequency and duration of blushing by dividing the sympathetic nerves that lie along the sympathetic chain beside the vertebral column.
3.2 ETS is usually done with the patient under general anaesthesia. Small incisions are made in the axilla and an endoscope is inserted. The lung is partially collapsed. The sympathetic chain is visualised and the chosen part of the chain is divided by electrocautery or endoscopic scissors, or surgical clips may be applied. The extent of division varies but usually involves the part of the sympathetic chain over the second or third ribs, or both. Gas is removed from the pleural space, allowing the lung to re-expand, and the wounds are closed. The procedure is then usually repeated on the other side.