Nuss procedure for pectus excavatum in adults: long-term results in a prospective observational study†

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Since the end of the 1990s, the management of pectus excavatum has undergone major changes. The Nuss procedure (pectus bar) has been the method of choice for patients with pectus excavatum at Bern University Hospital for over a decade. The current study will describe our experiences, with a particular focus on long-term results in adults.


The prospective observational study began in autumn 2002. The Haller index was used to quantify pectus excavatum severity. Pulmonary function tests and cardiac examinations were performed preoperatively, and a standardized management for surgical techniques and for the pre- and postoperative treatments including long-term follow-up at 3, 12 and 36 months after surgery was developed. Quality of life and satisfaction with the cosmetic result after the Nuss procedure were evaluated.


Better or much better quality of life after the Nuss procedure was observed: n = 108 (88.4%) at 3 months, n = 97 (89.0%) at 12 months and n = 87 (92.5%) at 36 months. Pain intensity decreased in the follow-up [pain score visual analogue scale (VAS) at 3 months: median 1 (0–7), 12 months: median 1 (0–4), 36 months: median 0.8 (0–5)]. After long-term observation, over 90% of patients described their quality of life after the operation as being better or much better. Satisfaction with the cosmetic results of the operation was also very high, with >90% of patients being satisfied. Only a very small group of patients suffered from pain in the long-term follow-up. Complications were rare (14.7%) and could be treated in most cases without reoperation.


Our results demonstrate that the Nuss procedure is safe and can be performed with excellent results in adults, both in the short term and in the long term. The improved quality of life and patients' satisfaction with cosmetic results remained high in the long-term follow-up, 10 years after the surgical procedure.

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