Patients with pectus excavatum appear to have a “sunken chest”, with the centre of their chest shifting inwards, as if it has partially collapsed. This indentation is the result of the breast bone growing inwards, and is an abnormal development of the sternum.
Pectus excavatum occurs in roughly 1 in every 300 –400 births, with a higher rate in males than females and is only diagnosable in teenage years, as the body develops.
While many adults live with the condition without treatment, severe cases can result in the compression of the heart and lungs. Pectus excavatum later in life can lead to physical difficulties since the indentation in the chest makes it unable to expand fully, causing a reduction in the space inside the chest cavity and potentially leading to a heart murmur.
Physical symptoms may include: shortness of breath after exercise, lower stamina compared to peers of similar age groups, fatigue, pain in the chest area or an irregular heartbeat. The psychological impact of pectus excavatum ranges from self-esteem issues to clinical depression, in extreme cases.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule a consultation with a Neumark specialist to discuss surgical treatment, especially now that advanced technology can significantly reduce the recovery time and potential surgical complications.
Pectus excavatum surgery works to correct the chest deformity and enhance a patient’s breathing and cardiac function. The objective of pectus excavatum corrects the deformity in the chest, and if relevant, improves the patient’s respiratory and cardiac ability.
In the past, surgeries required a more invasive approach. Today, the minimally-invasive pectus excavatum repair procedure is performed by a specially trained surgeon. Pectus excavatum Nuss procedure involves inserting a curved titanium bar under the breast bone to reposition it to a more normal, outward position. The bar is left in place for approximately three years and will later be removed when the chest becomes aligned, restoring regular function and appearance of the chest.
Pectus excavatum is often hereditary, with 25 percent of cases running in families. Adolescents with severe cases and associated symptoms can opt for minimally invasive surgical repair during their teenage years. The Nuss procedure has similar outcomes in both adult and teenage patients, making it a viable option for pectus excavatum surgery for adults as well.
To determine the best pectus excavatum treatment option for children, a CT scan may be recommended to measure the depth of the depression. Exercise stress tests, pulmonary function tests, or an echocardiogram may also be required before surgery. Depending on the method and the patient’s condition, surgery can take between 1 to 3 hours with very few pectus excavatum complications reported. Common post-surgery symptoms are the same in children as in adults, including chest and back pain.
The cause of the condition remains unknown. It appears to occur by itself, though there is a possibility it is hereditary. ‘Funnel’ chest is sometimes associated with other conditions, such as scoliosis or Marfan’s syndrome, which both involve the abnormal development of bone within the body.
This varies greatly depending on the condition. If you find yourself able to live your regular life with no physical limitations and small psychological effects, then it is perfectly fine to continue living with the condition. However, if you find that your pectus excavatum pain is affecting both your physical and mental wellbeing, it is worth exploring options, rather than accepting the condition. The cost of pectus excavatum surgery may be covered by some insurance plans.
Like any other surgery, there are potential dangers involved. The minimally-invasive repair used by Neumark surgeons significantly reduces the risk, but it is impossible to eliminate risk entirely. Most patients undergo a completely successful surgery, with no complications.
Like with adults, this depends on the condition. Some children do outgrow the condition. If necessary, a CT scan can be performed to assess if the pectus excavatum in toddlers poses any danger.
Most patients find that their physical symptoms are significantly reduced after they recover from their surgery. Some forms of rigorous physical activity may have to be avoided following surgery, to ensure the recovery is smooth. You may be provided with a set of exercises, to avoid stiffness and encourage flexibility, to help both with the recovery following the initial surgery and the surgery when the bar is removed.
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Neumark Lung and Chest Surgery Centre benefits from the expertise of a multidisciplinary team led by Dr Harish Mithiran, senior consulting thoracic surgeon at Gleneagles Hospital and Mt Alvernia Hospital.
Neumark is a lung and chest specialist centre with access to leading treatment modalities to achieve the best possible outcomes for lung disease and preventative patient screening.
Our foremost priority is to treat your condition as effectively as possible. Schedule a private consultation today; complete the form below, call, +65 6908 2145; WhatsApp, +65 9726 2485; or email, email@example.com.