As children grow, the chest depression can become more pronounced. The minimally invasive Nuss procedure can correct the 'funnel chest'.
Pectus excavatum (funnel chest) is a condition that affects the breastbone (sternum) and the ribs. It is one of the most common anomalies of childhood, one in every 1,000 children has some form of the condition and it is more common in boys than in girls.
The condition is caused by growth of excess connective tissue between the ribs and the breastbone. Pectus excavatum does not affect growth or development but as the children grow, the chest depression often becomes more pronounced and may cause some symptoms such as shortness of breath on exercising and exertion. By adolescence and young adulthood the person may also experience psychological features associated with negative body image.
The Nuss procedure can be performed from 16 years of age to 25 years, and a referral by GP is necessary to secure an initial consultation.
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You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
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The Nuss procedure is carried as a minimally invasive or keyhole operation. Two small incisions are made on either side of the chest wall followed by the careful insertion of a curved steel bar under the breastbone, the bar is then fixed in place. It immediately corrects the pectus excavatum, it is not visible from the outside and stays in place for around two years and is then removed.
The immediate recovery time in the hospital is 3-5 days, with one night in the high dependency unit. Attention is paid to post operative pain relief and advice on how to move about to maintain the position of the bar. After discharge, the patient is expected to slowly resume normal but restricted activity, such as heavy lifting or strenuous exercise.
The consultant will follow up the patient at two weeks and six months.
The pectus support bar is removed after between 2-3 years. It involves a short general anaesthetic and can be performed as a day case procedure with resumption to normal activities within a few days.
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The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
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