Choosing between the modified Ravitch and Nuss procedures for pectus excavatum: Considering the patients’s perspective

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Pectus excavatum (PE) is the most common paediatric chest wall deformity. The majority of patients are treated for cosmetic purposes, with the modified Ravitch and Nuss procedures the most commonly performed. We tested the preferences of healthy individuals over their choice of procedure.


The study was conducted from February to August 2014. A five-item illustrated questionnaire was administered to teenagers and young adults aged 14-26 years over their willingness to seek medical advice if they had PE, provided its cosmetic appearance was the only complaint. They were asked about their preference over the modified Ravitch and Nuss procedures, with the surgical details for both procedures explained by medical professionals, alongside illustrated outcomes.


Two hundred and two healthy individuals were interviewed. The median age was 19.5 years (14-26 years) and 141 (69.8%) were male. Sixty seven (33.2%) participants refused any intervention, while 11 (5.4%) initially wanted an intervention but refused after understanding the surgical procedures available. Of the 135 respondents who chose surgical correction, 84 (62.2%) preferred the modified Ravitch operation, while 51 (37.8%) preferred the Nuss procedure. The main reason for choosing the modified Ravitch technique was not having something metal in the chest, while most participants who chose the Nuss procedure felt that it was “cosmetically better”.


Patients have preferences over the choice of procedure for PE repair that can affect the treatment decision. Paediatric and thoracic surgeons should therefore be experienced in performing both procedures.

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