How is pectus excavatum treated?
Mild cases of pectus excavatum usually do not need surgery, however if recommended by your doctor, pectus excavatum can be treated with surgery. Children who are bothered by the physical appearance of a sunken chest or who have more serious depression that interferes with breathing or heart function usually need to have an operation to elevate the sternum and create a more normal or “neutral” appearance of the chest wall. The goal of surgery is to repair the chest deformity and increase the performance of the heart and lungs.
The optimal age for pectus excavatum surgery is between 12 and 17 years of age because younger patients tend to recover quicker from the procedure and obtain benefits sooner during their growth. In some severe cases, the repair may be done sooner. It can be done in older patients as well.
Pectus excavatum surgery at Children’s Hospital Colorado
The Nuss procedure is a minimally-invasive surgery that realigns the depressed sternum (“funnel chest”) with the rest of the chest wall. A specially designed metal bar is inserted into the chest beneath the ribs and sternum to raise them into a more normal position. The procedure provides improved heart and lung function as well as the psychological benefits of increased self-esteem.
The bar is typically left in place for approximately two to three years to allow the bones and cartilage to become fixed in place and mature to decrease the risk of recurrence. At that time your child will be scheduled for surgery to have the bar removed. This is usually done as a “day” surgery, so no overnight stay is required.
Why choose Children’s Colorado for your child’s pectus excavatum treatment?
Our pediatric care team is one of the most experienced teams in the Rocky Mountain Region specializing in chest wall deformity treatment. Patients and families are supported by a team of experts dedicated to caring for kids and teens before, during and after surgery including:
- Pediatric surgeon
- Pediatric anesthesiologist
- Physical therapist
- Pediatric nurses
- Pediatric radiologists
When surgery is recommended, our families can rest assured knowing that we offer:
- Anesthesiologists who are specialized in keeping kids safe and pain-free during surgery
- Kid-sized equipment, from radiology imaging to the operating room
- Age-appropriate information about what to expect from surgery for patients and siblings
- Collaboration and communication with your primary care doctor to ensure a smooth transition after surgery
Learn more about Pediatric Surgery at Children’s Colorado.
Pediatric General Surgery
Admin Fax: 720-777-7271