What is pectus excavatum and how can I manage it?

Pectus Excavatum, also referred to as funnel chest, is a deep indentation in the middle of the chest, making the chest appear to be scooped out. Pectus Excavatum effects around 1 to 2 percent of the population, and will more frequently occur in boys than in girls. Currently, the cause of pectus excavatum is unknown, however, it is thought to be hereditary. Around 37 percent of people with this condition will have a family member with pectus excavatum as well.

Signs and symptoms

 

When a child is born, they may have a slight indentation in their chest. This depression will usually get worse in the adolescent growth spurt and can continue to get worse into adulthood.

Signs and symptoms of severe pectus excavatum include:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart murmur
  • Fatigue
  • Respiratory infections, which may recur
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

Can I have surgery?

 

Fortunately, there are ways to fix pectus excavatum. Surgery is suitable for both adolescents and adults who are concerned with the way their chest looks as a result of the condition. Those who have shortness of breath or who have been unable to exercise are also suitable candidates for corrective surgery.

As this is a surgical procedure, candidates need to ensure they are in good health. Those that have disorders that impact healing, have diabetes, are obese, or have poor nutrition will not be suitable for this procedure.

What does the surgical procedure involve?

 

Understandably, some people are hesitant to fix pectus excavatum, as the solution is perceived to be invasive surgery. However, there is a more simple surgical procedure available.

To treat pectus excavatum, we use a custom-made implant. The use of 3D technology helps to reduce any complications. During your initial consultation, your chest will be measured and you will have the 3D scan. This scan will allow the implant to be custom made to suit your body.

Pectus excavatum treatment takes place under a local anaesthetic and only takes around one hour to complete. A vertical incision will be made across the chest, and a locus will be made to the size of the 3D implant. The implant is then placed under the muscle, giving the bone a remoulded shape. The incision is then closed with absorbable sutures.

Recovery

 

As this surgery is a day procedure, you will have a shorter recovery time than with more invasive surgeries. You may experience pain for a few hours following the procedure, however, you will be able to return home the same day. However, you will only be discharged when your breathing and eating is normal, and you are fine with the pain medication.

You will be required to wear a surgical dressing for the first few days after the procedure, and then you will have to wear a compression vest for a month. You will have to avoid sports and vigorous physical activity for three months. You will be given sick leave for 15 days.

This is an effective way to treat pectus excavatum and allows those who have this condition to boost their self-esteem and confidence.

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