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Ann Thorac Surg. 2003 Aug;76(2):391-5; discussion 395.

Thirty-year experience with repair of pectus deformities in adults.

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  • 1Joseph B. Whitehead Department of Surgery, Section of General Thoracic Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



A plethora of studies have described repair of pectus deformities in children, but only few reports have described this repair in adults. The purpose of this study was to review our 30-year experience with surgical repair of pectus deformities in adults.


A retrospective review of all adult patients (> 16 years old) who underwent repair of congenital pectus deformities from 1971 through 2001.


There were 77 patients, 64 men and 13 women. Sixty-eight patients underwent surgery for pectus excavatum and 9 for pectus carinatum; median age was 22 years old (range, 16 to 68 years old). Indication for repair was medical concerns in all patients. Preoperative symptoms were dyspnea on exertion in 43 patients, shortness of breath at rest in 22 patients, chest pain in 8 patients, and palpitations in 8 patients. Preoperative electrocardiogram findings included right bundle branch block in 9 patients, sinus bradycardia in 8 patients, left atrial enlargement in 6 patients, and right atrial dilatation in 5 patients. Patterns of the pectus defect were symmetric and localized in 29 patients, symmetric and diffuse in 21, asymmetric and localized in 18, and asymmetric and diffuse in 9 patients. Intraoperative classifications were severe in 38 patients, moderate in 33 patients, and mild in 6 patients. There were no operative deaths. Complications occurred in 11 patients (14.3%). Mean hospital stay was 4 days (range, 2 to 8 days). Mean follow-up was 12 +/- 7 years (range, 4 months old to 24 years old); 1 patient (1.3%) required reoperation for recurrent pectus excavatum. Patient satisfaction and relief of medical symptoms was excellent in 70 patients (90.9%), good in 6 patients, and fair in 1 patient.


Repair of congenital defects of the sternum in adults can be performed safely with low morbidity and no mortality. Long-term results are excellent with requirement for reoperation rare.

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