Two patients with abnormalities of regional sympathetic nervous tone

R. O'Hehir, M. Esler, G. Jennings, P. Leonard, P. Little, J. Johns, F. Panetta

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The traditional biochemical tests of sympathetic nervous system function used in clinical diagnosis (urine and plasma catecholamine measurements) are indices of “overall” sympathetic nervous activity, and incapable of detecting localised changes in sympathetic tone confined to individual organs. Recently developed radiotracer methods, which enable the pattern of sympathetic nervous dysfunction in disease states to be delineated, were used to detect abnormalities in regional sympathetic nervous system activity in two patients presenting problems in management. In one, the abnormality of sympathetic function was iatrogenic, a post‐sympathectomy denervation of the lower regions of the body, associated with incapacitating postural hypotension. In the other, unexplained persistent sinus tachycardia proved to be due to an increase in sympathetic nervous tone restricted to the innervation of the heart. Knowledge of the underlying sympathetic nervous pathophysiology in these patients influenced the choice of drugs subsequently used in their treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-859
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • dihydroergotamine
  • noradrenaline kinetics
  • postural hypotension
  • sinus tachycardia
  • Sympathetic nervous system

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