Procedure Halts Excessive Hand Sweat
Small Study Shows Immediate Effects in Most Patients
Nov. 29, 2005 -- Excessive hand sweat can be permanently stopped by a short,
minimally invasive procedure, Belgian doctors report.
The 20-minute procedure immediately interrupted hand sweat without
significant complications in 94% of 50 patients studied, according to Hugues
Brat, MD, and colleagues.
Brat heads the radiology department at Centre Hospitalier Hornu-Frameries in
Hornu, Belgium. The findings were presented in Chicago at the annual meeting of
the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
Here's how the procedure worked.
A doctor specializing in interventional radiology used a needle to puncture
a tiny spot in the upper back. Only local anesthesia at the site of the
procedure was used for the procedure. Then, the radiologist used CT fluoroscopy
(a type of imaging) to guide and precisely inject a phenol-based drug that
interrupts the nerve networks that transmit signals to the sweat glands.
Most patients require one treatment per affected side, according to an RSNA
news release. In 47 of the 50 patients in Brat's study, the procedure
immediately interrupted hand sweat. Repeating the procedure brought the same
success to the other patients.
No significant side effects were reported in the study.
However, the researchers note "minor complications," such as chest
pain that ended within hours after the treatment, in a little less than a third
of the patients (32%).
The procedure does have risks, states the RSNA. Those risks include Horner
syndrome, which affects eyelid movement, and unpredictable but rare cases of
extra chest sweat.
There are other ways to treat excess hand sweat, or palmar
Some people try topical drying products first. If those don't work, some may
get Botox shots in their hands. Those shots work for about six months, and then
more Botox is needed, states the RSNA.
The only permanent solution -- apart from Brat's method -- is surgery
requiring local or general anesthesia. Those operations work, but they could
have potential complications, including excess chest sweat, Horner syndrome,
bleeding, collapsed lung, and partial paralysis, according to the RSNA.
The RSNA states that the method Brat used has "no risk of nerve damage
or bleeding and only minimal risk of Horner syndrome."
"This is the most precise and effective treatment of palmar
hyperhidrosis available," Brat says in a news release.
He says the procedure stops sweat from the hands to the armpits "with
very little chance of recurrence" and that the same technique could be used
to treat sweaty feet.
However, he doesn't recommend the procedure lightly.
"If you suffer from this condition, it should significantly impair your
normal life before you consider this type of treatment," Brat says, adding
that "although the procedure is very effective, it is permanent."
"You must strike a balance between improvement of your quality of life
with this or any other procedure and the potential risks and side effects of
treatment," Brat says.