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Thoracic Surgery

Pectus Excavatum Repair

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Pectus excavatum, also known as sunken or funnel chest, is a congenital deformity of the chest wall. Several ribs and the sternum grow abnormally, producing a caved-in appearance in the front chest wall.

The Surgery

Often, a minimally invasive technique called the Nuss procedure is used to correct pectus excavatum. The procedure involves slipping in one or more concave steel bars into the chest, underneath the sternum. The bar is flipped to a convex position so as to push outward on the sternum, correcting the deformity. The bar stays in the body until the bones have solidified into place. After a few years, the bar is removed through outpatient surgery.

In some cases, a more invasive procedure known as thoracoplasty or the Ravitch technique is necessary. This procedure involves creating an incision along the chest through which the cartilage is removed and the sternum detached. A small bar is then inserted underneath the sternum to hold it up in the desired position. The bar is left implanted until the cartilage grows back. After about 6 months, the bar is removed in a simple outpatient procedure.

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