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Patient Information

Adult Chest Wall Surgery

Many adults living with chest wall deformities believe that treatment isn’t an option in adulthood. Fortunately, this just isn’t true. Adult chest wall surgery is a viable option for many patients who have been living with chest wall deformities from a young age. WakeMed’s Adult Chest Wall Surgery Center brings decades of experience in the treatment of chest wall deformities — from the most common to the most complex cases.

Why have chest wall surgery as an adult? The physiological impacts of chest wall deformities may become more pronounced as patients age. Many will report a decreased exercise tolerance, difficulty breathing and/or pain — not to mention the feelings of self-consciousness they’ve been managing for decades.

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Conditions We Treat

WakeMed’s Adult Chest Wall Surgery Center is pleased to offer a wide variety of treatment options to help adult patients with chest wall deformities such as:

  • Pectus Excavatum
  • Pectus Carinatum
  • Currarino-Silverman syndrome (Pectus Arcuatum)
  • Poland’s Syndrome
  • Acquired Asphyxiating Thoracic Dystrophy (also called acquired Jenue's syndrome)
  • Congenital Rib Anomalies
  • Slipping Rib Syndrome
  • Gynecomastia
  • Re-do repairs of any of the above (individualized to each of our patients)


Team Approach for Adult Chest Wall Surgery

WakeMed’s Chest Wall Center offers comprehensive and personalized care for adults with chest wall abnormalities. Offering the most advanced procedures available and a collaborative approach to care, our patients and their families appreciate our expertise and compassion.

Our multidisciplinary team includes:

  • Chest Wall Surgery Experts — Our expert team of pediatric surgeons bring 40+ years of combined experience performing complex chest wall surgeries such as the Nuss procedure and/or Modified Ravitch procedure.
  • Adult Thoracic Surgery Team — Our thoracic surgery team bring decades of expertise in performing complex chest surgeries in adult patients.
  • Specialty Support Teams — As one of the region’s largest health systems and trauma centers, WakeMed has specialty teams available around-the-clock — in areas such as Pulmonology, Cardiology, and Respiratory Therapy — all available to consult and/or provide support for complex cases.


Adult Chest Wall Surgery Procedures

Adults with chest wall deformities have several treatment options. Based on a thorough evaluation and consultation with our team, your surgeon will help you determine which option may be best for you.

  • Nuss Procedure — This minimally-invasive option (typically for pectus excavatum) uses hardware to help reshape the chest wall over time.
  • Modified Ravitch Procedure — This surgical option (often referred to as Modified Ravitch repair) is used for patients with either pectus excavatum or pectus carinatum, and involves the repair and/or reshaping of the sternum.
  • Chest Wall Reconstruction — For complex cases (such as Poland’s Syndrome), WakeMed surgeons work with a commercial device manufacturer to develop a customized titanium chest wall implant designed specifically to fit each patient. A comprehensive and thorough pre-surgical planning process allows the surgeons to provide individualized treatment for rare congenital anomalies.


Decades of Experience

WakeMed’s Chest Wall Deformity Center is the busiest treatment center in North and South Carolina. Because of our decades of expertise and the volume of surgical cases we perform each year, our chest wall surgery patients report:

  • Better patient outcomes (lower complication rates, higher success, etc.);
  • Less post-operative pain;
  • Shorter hospital stay than the national average for chest wall surgery patients.


See our 2021 pectus excavatum outcomes

See our 2020 pectus excavatum outcomes

See our 2019 pectus excavatum outcomes

See our 2018 pectus excavatum outcomes

See our 2017 pectus excavatum outcomes


Managing Pain After Surgery

A major concern for patients undergoing chest wall surgery is pain management after surgery. Because each patient is different, there is no "one size fits all" approach. We offer a wide range of options and in most cases, our patients benefit from a combination of modalities that will vary based on chest configuration, age and other factors.

We have successfully used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, long-acting oral medications, intravenous narcotics, multi-level intercostal nerve block catheters (On-Q catheters) and cryoanalgesia. We encourage patients to discuss concerns about pain management in detail with our team prior to any surgical procedure.


Chest Wall Surgery - Procedures Overview


Chest Wall Surgical Process


Physical Therapy for Chest Wall Surgery


WakeMed Voices Podcast - Correction of Chest Wall Deformities