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What is the Nuss procedure?

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The Nuss procedure is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to repair a condition called pectus excavatum, states the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. During the Nuss procedure, two small incisions are made on each side of the chest and, with the help of a small scope, a concave stainless steel bar is inserted under the sternum, or breastbone. The bar is then flipped, properly positioning the sternum.

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After the bar is placed, metal stabilizers are placed on both sides of the chest to hold the bar in position. According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, these stabilizers are secured into the rib cage. The bar and stabilizers are usually removed after two to three years. After a Nuss procedure, children are generally kept in the hospital for four to five days to ensure pain control and ability to perform proper activity. Children are usually instructed not to lie on their side or stomach, bend, twist, strain, lift heavy objects, engage in contact sports or physical education, or carry a backpack for four weeks following a Nuss procedure.

According to Medscape, pectus excavatum is a congenital abnormality in which the sternum and several ribs grow abnormally, causing the chest to appear sunken. The condition is usually diagnosed at birth. Pectus excavatum occurs in approximately one to every 300 to 500 births, with males affected more than females.

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