Top Surgeon Explains the Importance of Thoracic Outlet Surgery for Athletes

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Ali Mahtabifard, MD, of La Peer Health Systems in Los Angeles spoke recently about St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia and his decision to undergo thoracic outlet surgery.

Ali Mahtabifard MD
Choosing to undergo thoracic outlet surgery can be tough for some athletes, but doing so can result in a major boost to physical well being and performance.

A recent article by ESPN highlighted St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia’s choice to undergo thoracic outlet surgery. The pitcher, who has suffered from consistent injuries during his career, believed the procedure was the best solution to his long-standing injuries.

The term “thoracic outlet” refers to the space between the collarbone and first rib where a number of nerves, blood vessels, and muscles pass through. The surgery involves removing the first rib in order to relieve the pressure that comes from a compressed thoracic outlet. At the Thoracic Outlet Surgery Center of Excellence, Dr. Ali Mahtabifard understands that while thoracic outlet surgery is a major decision for athletes, it’s often the only solution to constant physical problems.

“Choosing to undergo thoracic outlet surgery can be tough for some athletes, but doing so can result in a major boost to physical well being and performance,” said Dr. Mahtabifard, who is double board certified in general and cardiothoracic surgery. “The injuries that lead to thoracic outlet surgery are often unable to be cured by any other procedure.”

When the nerves between the collarbone and first rib become compressed during thoracic outlet syndrome, there are few ways to undo the damage. Over time, the symptoms will begin to take a toll on performance. Common symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome include:

●    Pain in the arm, hand, neck, or shoulder
●    Tingling or numbness in the arm or hand
●    Swelling of the arm or shoulder
●    Discoloration of the arm
●    Depression in the shoulder

“Because an athlete’s body is compromised by thoracic outlet syndrome, he or she won’t be able to perform at a peak level,” said Dr. Mahtabifard. “Only by completely ending the condition can athletes confidently return to their proper form.”

About La Peer Health Systems

La Peer Health Systems is an outpatient surgery center in Beverly Hills, founded by doctors and focused on providing excellent patient care alongside the most cutting-edge medical treatments available. With 50 world-renowned physicians in 14 specialties, comprehensive medical treatment is offered that takes patients from consultation to diagnosis, treatment, surgery, and ultimately aftercare. The 14 medical departments include orthopedics & sports medicine, gastroenterology, head & neck surgery, colorectal & general surgery, podiatry, ophthalmology, pain management, plastics & reconstructive surgery, gynecology, spine surgery, interventional cardiology, bariatric surgery, thoracic surgery, and anesthesiology. Unlike large hospitals, La Peer's unique structure offers extremely personal care in a safe and controlled environment.

To learn more about La Peer Health Systems, visit

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Risa Luksa

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