A university student can look forward to a life without shortness of breath or the continual fear of developing pneumonia, thanks to a local chest surgeon.
Michaela, 20 and from Worcester underwent surgery for acondition called Pectus Excavatum, a condition that sees theribs grow inwards, pushing the breastbone towards the back.Diagnosed at the age of 12, Michaela was told the condition was unlikely to cause her any issues, but as the years passed,she noticed she was developing more chest infections.
Michaela said:“It all started when I got flu at 12 and had to go to thedoctors. He noticed that my chest caved inwards slightly – a condition called Pectus Excavatum. While many people withthis condition do not develop many side effects as a result,I noticed I wasn’t coping as well with ordinary mild viruses like colds. Instead, they seemed to develop into chestinfections and on a particularly bad occasion, I ended up inhospital with pleurisy.“I also found I coughed up blood when taking physicalexercise, which led me to give up rowing and exercise.”As a precaution Michaela was placed on preventativeantibiotics for six months to help her fight off infections quickly.
By the time Michaela reached 16, her quality of life was beginning to suffer. “I couldn’t take part in sport – something I had really enjoyed at school – and found that I couldn’t go out with friends as much as I would like to have done because I simply didn’t feel like it. My posture was altering and I was becoming conscious of how I looked as the concave was becoming increasingly visible.”
A couple of years later when Michaela was 19 years old, shewas sent for a CT scan, and it was this that revealed theextent to which her chest was deformed.Michaela was referred to consultant chest surgeon, Babu Naidu at Spire Parkway Hospital.
Babu Naidu said:“Patients who suffer from Excavatum Pectus often seek corrective surgery to improve their confidence and self esteem. The condition can cause a severe alteration in the appearance of the chest area and so corrective surgery can have a significant positive impact upon their lives. However,some patients, such as Michaela, can develop severe physical symptoms. These include lack of endurance, shortness of breath especially during exercise, chest pain and recurrent infections.”There are two surgical options for this procedure:-
The Ravitch procedure, where the ribs and breast plateare cut at multiple points and repositioned to the desiredposition and held in place with a bar or plate or the patient’sown muscles
The Nuss procedure provides a second option and involvesmaking two small incisions on either side of the rib cage and passing a U shaped metal bar to push the breast plate forward. The metal bar is removed after two years once the chest has remodelled to the new shape.
Babu Naidu:“The type of procedure performed depends on a number offactors including how flexible the chest is (often better in younger patients) and whether the chest is caving inwardsor pushing outwards.”Due to Michaela’s condition, it was decided that the Nuss procedure would be the best option.
Four months after the operation, she began seeing the benefits.“I had a cold and coped perfectly well without the need for antibiotics and I’ve managed to go for a jog without any problems – the first time in many years,” said Michaela.“This procedure has already made a huge difference to my quality of life and I’m no longer concerned about winter and requiring lots of antibiotics. I’m also looking to complete a10k run at some point soon.”
Babu Naidu said:“There is limited awareness of the condition, Pectus Excavatum. Those who are suffering from a rib cage that appears to be changing shape can seek medical assistance.”
The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as asubstitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.