The vacuum bell
is a medical device used in the treatment of pectus excavatum
, one of the most common chest wall
defects. The bell is mainly used to treat the cosmetic problems associated with the condition, as symptomatic cases of pectus excavatum are usually more severe, and may require surgery.
It was invented by a German engineer named Klobe, and is sold online in Europe by Klobe himself, and in the US by Costa.
A 2006 study of 34 patients (31 male and 3 female), aged between 6-52 years, who used the bell for 1-18 months showed immediate improvements. The patients were followed up with clinical examination, photography and CT scans
. After 3 months, 27 of the patients displayed an elevation of the sternum of more than 1.5cm, and after 12 months the sternum was lifted to a normal level within 5 of the patients. Studies showing long term improvements are currently lacking, but so far research appears promising.
Method of usage
The rubber bell is placed onto the chest wall so that a seal is created, and a hand pump connected to the bell by an air tube is used to reduce pressure inside the bell to up to 15% below atmospheric pressure
. The drop in pressure results in the sternum being lifted upwards and a temporary resolution of the deformity.
Use of the bell is not advised if any of the following conditions are present in a patient:
Possible side effects from using the device include: