While the child is deep asleep and pain-free (using general anesthesia), an incision is made over the breastbone (sternum). The deformed cartilage are removed and the rib lining is left in place to allow re-growth of the cartilage. An incision is made in the sternum and it is repositioned. A rib or metal strut may be used to stabilize the sternum in normal position until healing occurs in 3 to 6 months. A chest tube may be placed to re-expand the lung if the lining of the lung is entered.
Metal struts are removed 6 months later through a small skin incision under the arm. This procedure is usually done as an outpatient.
Review Date 9/9/2017
Updated by: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.