Jefferson University Hospitals

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) is a condition that occurs when nerves or blood vessels are compressed by the rib, collarbone or neck muscles at the top of the outlet.

TOS is commonly caused by physical trauma from things like sports-related injuries, car accidents, pregnancy, obesity, poor posture and, in some cases, it stems from anatomical defects. Women are more at risk for TOS, and it is more common in young adults, between 20 and 40 years old.

There are three types of TOS named for the structure being compressed: 

  • Neurogenic TOS: the common type, with symptoms that include pain, numbness and tingling in the arm, shoulder, fingers or neck.
  • Arterial and Venous TOS: affects the blood vessels and can be the result of trauma or repeated movements. Patients may experience painful, swollen extremities or signs of inadequate blood flow.

If left untreated, TOS can cause permanent neurological damage, so if you're at risk and/or are experiencing any of the symptoms, it's important to seek care.

Jefferson's comprehensive multidisciplinary team will work together to properly evaluate, diagnose and treat all types of TOS in patients. TOS can sometimes be treated with physical therapy and medications, while others may need to explore surgical options.

Our experienced team of surgeons offer a number of approaches to treating TOS, including open, minimally invasive, transthoracic and robotic techniques.