The successful treatment of essential hypertension remains one of the most difficult problems in medicine. Approximately 18 years have elapsed since extensive sympathectomy was first performed for essential hypertension. Extensive sympathectomy occasionally produces striking decrease in blood pressure of patients with essential hypertension; in many instances it fails to decrease blood pressure or modify the course of the disease. That which is most desired are some standards for preoperative selection of patients so that only patients who will be benefited by sympathectomy will be operated on. Unfortunately this apparently cannot be accomplished. The indications for sympathectomy remain at least partially uncertain and there is no agreement among those most experienced in the field of hypertension relative to the results of operation. There also are differences of opinion about the extensiveness of sympathectomy which is advisable. This paper indicates clearly differences of opinion among those most experienced in this field and emphasizes some of the points of agreement. It seems clear that additional technics of sympathectomy cannot be devised for the treatment of essential hypertension. There seems little doubt that sympathectomy would not be performed were adequate medical treatment available. This presentation gives the opinion of internists and surgeons who are particularly interested in hypertension and its treatment.
- © 1952 American Heart Association, Inc.