Although the Nuss procedure is safe and effective, complications can occur and it is important for you to know about potential risks in relation to pectus excavatum surgery.
The surgical repair of pectus excavatum, like other extensive surgical procedures, carries certain risks including:
Risk of infection
There is always a risk of infection in connection with an operation, even if you have prophylactic antibiotics through the operation, but such infections are very rare only around 1 %. If infection should occur you will have to continue antibiotics for a period.
Risk of bleeding
Bleeding is a rare complication, less than 1 %. In case of bleeding during the operation, it will usually be stopped by the scope, but a larger incision may be required.
Risk of pneumothorax
Pneumothorax is the accumulation of air in the pleural space around the lung. Most of the time this only requires a follow up chest X-ray. However, 2% of patients may need a chest drain.
Risk of pleural effusion
Pleural effusion is the accumulation of fluid in the pleural space around the lung. This may require a follow-up chest X-ray and very rarely a chest drain.
Risk of inflammation around the heart - pericarditis
Pericarditis is a condition in which the membrane, or sac, around your heart is inflammed. It is treated with medicine and rest.
Risk of bar displacement
The bars can move out of position (1-2 % risk) and may need to be adjusted in the operating room. With recent modifications in the Nuss procedure, the incidence of bar displacement is less than 2 out of 100 patients. To prevent the bar from moving too much, patients are asked to restrict their physical activities in the first 6 weeks after the surgery and slowly resume them the following 6 weeks. If you suddenly experience violent pain and feel that there has been movement of the bar(s), you must contact us.
Risk of pectus excavatum recurrence
According to the research, the risk of relapse is minimal (< 2 %). This may happen when surgeries are performed prior to growth spurts (puberty) or if not leaving the bar in long enough.
Risk of death
There have been very few reports in the medical literature of injuries to the heart during bar placement over the last 25 years.