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 7/26/2015
Updated by: Dale Mueller, MD, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon, HeartCare Midwest; Chairman Department of Cardiovascular Medicine and Surgery, OSF St. Francis Medical Center; and Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Illinois. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.