Can Surgery Cure Raynaud's Disease?

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

I would like to have some information about the surgical therapy of Raynaud's Disease.

Doctor's response

For patients with severe Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) that is not responding to medications, surgical treatment is considered. The nerves that are responsible for stimulating the muscles in the walls of the blood vessels to contract and aggravate RP are part of the sympathetic nervous system.

Interruption of the nerves of the sympathetic nervous system is called a sympathectomy. Sympathectomy can be performed by interrupting the nerves in the neck for RP of the hands or in the low back (lumbar) area for RP of the feet. Currently, the preferred method of sympathectomy is a localized procedure in the hand or foot. Before performing a local digital sympathectomy, the surgeon "blocks" the sympathetic nerves with an anesthetic to determine whether or not interruption of these nerves surgically will have benefit by decreasing the RP.

Finally, occasionally severe RP is aggravated by underlying blood vessel disease that can be repaired surgically by operations that restore blood flow through clogged vessels.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Treatment of the Raynaud phenomenon resistant to initial therapy"

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Reviewed on 7/10/2017