Pectus Excavatum Surgery

Also known as: Nuss procedure for pectus excavatum, Nuss procedure, Ravitch procedure.

What is pectus excavatum surgery?

There are several surgical procedures used to treat pectus excavatum, also known as funnel chest or sunken chest. While some children have the deformity since birth, most present during the rapid growth in adolescence.  There are two procedures which have been regularly used to treat this condition. The Ravitch operation is the conventional surgery used for decades and involves a horizontal or vertical incision overlying the sternum (breast bone).  The Nuss procedure , which is minimally invasive, was described in the late 1990s, and has become the standard of care for most patients.  Please see the sections on our Nicklaus Children’s website pertaining to each of these operations.

How does your doctor decide which operation is best?

While most patients with pectus excavatum are candidates for the Nuss procedure, the doctor or family may decide that the Ravitch is more suitable. This can be because the child has a combination defect, part of the chest protruding out while part is indented. The Ravitch has the potential to correct both types of defects.  Also, if the patient is unwilling or unable to wait 4 years for the completion of treatment, the Nuss may be inadvisable, as the stabilizing bars usually remain in that long to prevent recurrence of the depression. With the Ravitch procedure, correction can be expected in about 6 months.


Reviewed by: Cathy Anne Burnweit, MD

This page was last updated on: 8/9/2018 9:40:11 AM

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