Healthy Kids - Fall 2023

Because we operate on the lungs as part of the surgery, some physicians do not think it’s worth it for what they call ‘a small problem.’ But it’s not a small problem.

so I was constantly trying to find new solutions,” he says. “I would ask doctors and read other people’s stories—all out of desperation.” Lynn could tell he was getting more and more frustrated. “In the beginning, he would consistently wipe his hands on his basketball jersey, and we always just thought he had a nervous habit. But then it became, ‘I can’t grip a pencil,’ and all the other classic things that kids with hyperhidrosis report as issues,” she says. “It combines the social aspects with the school issues and the sports challenges. Once he started high school, he was expressing a lot more frustration, and I could hear from his voice that this had really reached a different level.”

nerve behind the third rib. The lung would be reinflated and the process repeated on the other side. The surgery is done in under an hour and the patient can typically go home that day. “When someone has hyperhidrosis, it means their sympathetic nerve chain is overactive. By cutting that chain, you turn it off and take away the neural impulses that are causing so much sweating,” Dr. Levy explains, adding that while the surgery is not routinely performed in San Diego, he has been very pleased with its success rate at Rady Children’s. “Because we operate on the lungs as part of the surgery, some physicians do not think it’s worth it for what they call ‘a small problem.’ But it’s not a small problem,” he says. “These are people that present with an excessive amount of sweating on their hands and feet. They can’t take people’s hands to hold or shake. They can’t slow dance. They are very hesitant to touch other people—they’re just embarrassed by it. It can impact sports and working with smartphones and keypads. There are not a lot of parts of their lives that are not negatively affected by this condition,” he continues. “After we do this surgery, the first thing patients do when they wake up is touch their hands,

FINDING ANSWERS Finally at his wit’s end, Cole showed his mom an article about a minimally invasive surgery called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETC), in which surgeons cut the nerves that activate the sweating response in the hands and armpits. Although his dermatologists had previously discouraged surgery, Lynn took Cole’s urging seriously and looked into his research. “The article featured two surgeons from Rady Children’s, and since we already knew how good of a hospital Rady Children’s was, I said we could meet with them,” she says. Soon, Cole had a consultation with Timothy Fairbanks, MD, a pediatric surgeon, division chief and co-director of the pediatric surgery program at Rady Children’s and a professor of surgery at UC San Diego; and Michael Levy, MD, PhD, a pediatric neurosurgeon and chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Rady Children’s and a clinical professor of surgery at UC San Diego. Dr. Fairbanks and Dr. Levy, who would each perform a portion of the surgery, explained the procedure in detail. Surgeons would make three small incisions in one side of Cole’s chest, deflate that lung, then cut a section of

and they’re amazed that they’re dry. Universally, everyone has been happy with the

procedure, and we have had great results. It’s

making a big difference.” That described Cole’s

experience to a T, and when the surgery arrived, he faced it with eager anticipation. “I was a little nervous going through with it, but I also knew that if could do this, it would be all over. I knew I didn’t want to live with


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