Article Abstract

Open repair of pectus carinatum

Authors: Marco Scarci, Luca Bertolaccini, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, Benedetta Bedetti


Pectus carinatum is a chest deformity characterized by a protrusion of the sternum and ribs (usually 3–7 ribs). The treatment of these patients varies in relation to age. In younger patients we prefer to use a custom-made brace, surgery is the elective treatment for older patients. The minimally-invasive technique (Abramson procedure) is used rarely and for mild defects, whereas open surgery is still preferred by many surgeons to repair major deformities. In our institution we use a modified Ravitch approach trough a vertical incision, which is performed on top of the most prominent part of the defect. The first step is the mobilisation of the pectoralis muscle to allow the exposure of the skeletal structure of the sternum and of the deformed costal cartilages. The second step is to perform multiple parasternal rib cartilage resections to shorten the overabundant length that causes the deformity, avoiding damaging the perichondrium. The third step consists of a wedge osteotomy at the level of the most prominent point of the sternum. The last step is the remodelling and the stabilization of the chest wall. The sternum stabilization is obtained through the placement of one titanium bar and with the filling of the space created at the osteotomy line with fragments of cartilages or with demineralized bone tissue. The perichondrial sheats of the ribs are sutured to the sternum with absorbable sutures. The postoperative pain management should be a priority in order to avoid further complications. In our institution we use a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) with morphine on the day of the surgery. On the first postoperative day we remove the PCA and start an oral therapy with the combination of opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Early mobilisation is also a milestone in the postoperative management of these patients.