Background/purpose: The Nuss procedure is a minimally invasive pectus repair that helps avoid cartilage resection and osteotomy. This report compares outcomes in patients undergoing a standard pectus repair to patients with the Nuss procedure.
Methods: One hundred three children (ages 5 to 20 years) with severe pectus excavatum underwent repair. Patients were evaluated for type of repair performed, associated anomalies, cardiopulmonary function, operating time, analgesia requirements, complications, length of hospital stay, hospital and operative charges, and cosmetic result. Statistical analysis was performed using the Mann-Whitney rank sum test.
Results: There were 68 patients (average age, 12.6 years) in the standard group and 35, (average age, 9.5 years) in the Nuss group. Associated anomalies were found in 6 standard group and 2 Nuss group patients. Average operating time in Nuss was 3.3 hours and in open procedures, 4.7 hours. Postoperative complications occurred in 13 (20%) standard repair patients and 15 (43%) after the Nuss. In the standard group, 14 patients received intrathecal and 3 received epidural analgesia, while 35 (52%) required an intravenous patient-controlled anesthetic device (PCA; average, 1.8 days). In the Nuss group, 25 patients (71%) received epidural anesthesia (average, 3 days), and 31 (89%) utilized PCA (average 3.8 days). Four (6%) standard patients and 8 Nuss patients (29%) required reoperation. Length of stay averaged 4.0 days (range 2 to 30) in the standard group and 4.8 days (range, 2 to 11) in the Nuss group. Average operating room charge was $8,325 in the standard group and $9,480 in the Nuss group. Average hospital charge was $4,137 for the standard patient and $4,044 for the Nuss group. Analgesic requirements and length of hospital stay were increased (P <.05). The complication rate and operative and hospital charges were similar between groups.
Conclusions: Although the Nuss repair is associated with shorter operating time, smaller incisions, and less dissection, early results indicate few other advantages. Drawbacks of the Nuss procedure include high complication and reoperation rates and lack of efficacy in older teenagers and those with connective tissue disorders. Long-term follow-up will be necessary to determine final cosmetic and functional outcomes and define the overall risks and benefits of this procedure as compared with the standard technique.