Background/purpose: Increasing numbers of patients with pectus excavatum defects are presenting for operative repair. Studies that follow-up with patients after open repair have found a decrease in pulmonary function with some improvement in cardiac output and exercise tolerance; however, these effects have not been examined systematically after closed or Nuss repair of pectus excavatum. This study examined the early postoperative effects of closed repair of pectus on pulmonary function, exercise tolerance, and cardiac function.
Methods: Patients were followed up prospectively after initial evaluation for operation. All patients underwent preoperative computed tomography (CT) scan, and pre- and postoperative (3 months) pulmonary function studies, exercise tolerance, and echocardiographic evaluation of cardiac function.
Results: Eleven patients underwent evaluation. Preoperative CT index was 4.1 +/- 0.9. Patients reported an improvement in subjective postoperative exercise tolerance (4.1 +/- 0.7; maximal, + 5). Pulmonary function studies (FVC and vital capacity) were significantly reduced at 3 months postsurgery: change in FVC, -0.67 +/- 0.92 L and VC, -0.5 +/- 0.72 L. Similarly, VO2 max was reduced: preoperative, 35.6 +/- 1.5 versus postoperative, 29.1 +/- 11.9 L/kg/min. Cardiac function was significantly improved postoperation (stroke volume preoperative, 61.6 +/- 25 versus 77.5 +/- 23 mL postoperative). All comparisons had a P value less than.05 by Student's paired t test.
Conclusions: These results show that closed repair of pectus excavatum is associated with a subjective improvement in exercise tolerance, which is paralleled by an increase in cardiac function and a decline in pulmonary function. These findings support the use of closed repair of pectus excavatum in patients who complain of subjective shortness of breath; further study is required to delineate the long-term cardiopulmonary implications after closed repair.
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