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Pectus excavatum - discharge

When You or Your Child Was in the Hospital

You or your child had surgery to correct pectus excavatum. This is a deformity of the front of the chest wall with a sunken breastbone (sternum) and ribs.

There is now a metal bar or strut that goes across the front of you or your child's chest cavity. It will stay in place for about 1 to 3 years.

Home Care

You or your child should walk often during the day to build up strength. You may need to help your child get in and out of bed during the first 1 to 2 weeks after surgery.

During the first month at home, be sure you or your child:

  • Always bend over at the hips.
  • Sit up straight to help keep the bar in place. DO NOT slouch.
  • DO NOT roll on either side.

It may be more comfortable for you or your child to sleep partly sitting up in a recliner for the first 2 to 4 weeks after surgery.

You or your child should not use a backpack. Ask your surgeon how much weight is safe for you or your child to lift or carry. The surgeon may tell you that it should not be heavier than 5 or 10 pounds.

You or your child should avoid vigorous activity and contact sports for 3 months. After that, activity is good because it improves growth of the chest and strengthens the chest muscles.

Ask the surgeon when you or your child can return to work or school.

Most dressings (bandages) will be removed by the time your child leaves the hospital. There may still be strips of tape on the incisions. Leave these in place. They will fall off on their own. There may be a small amount of drainage on the strips. This is normal.

Keep all follow-up appointment with the surgeon. This will likely be 2 weeks after surgery. Other doctor visits will be needed while the metal bar or strut is still in place. Another surgery will be done to remove the bar or strut. This is usually done on an outpatient basis.

You or your child should wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace while the metal bar or strut is in place. The surgeon can give you more information about this.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider if you or your child has any of the following:

  • Fever of 101°F (38.3°C), or higher
  • Increased swelling, pain, drainage, or bleeding from the wounds
  • Severe chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Change in the way the chest looks since the surgery


Gottlieb LJ, Reid RR, Lee JC. Pediatric chest and trunk defects. In: Neligan PC, ed. Plastic Surgery. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2013:chap 41.

Lumpkins KM, Colombani P, Abdullah F. Repair of pectus excavatum. In: Cameron JL, ed. Current Surgical Therapy. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:772-775

Review Date: 3/8/2015
Reviewed 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, Peoria, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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