From 1949 to 1975, 220 children have undergone surgical reconstruction of pectus excavatum using a variety of operations on our Pediatric Surgical Service. The first 183 were previously reported and have had subsequent, careful followup evaluation. From 1970 to 1975, an identifiable group of 45 children had a standard operation, a modified Ravitch repair, with the addition of a three point or tripod internal fixation technique for support of the sternum. These children have all obtained satisfactory reconstruction without prosthetic support of any kind. We have thus avoided the possible danger of foreign material within the chest and have obviated the need for another procedure to remove a supporting stent. The two groups have been analyzed and compared with respect to age distribution, postoperative complications and end results to see if we could detect any trends in the evolving management of children with this condition. The main indications for surgical correction remain cosmetic and postural. Specific trends which have emerged from our experience include an increased percentage of patients between 3 and 8 yr of age (average 5.8 yr); a decreased need for blood transfusion (10%); a near resolution of postoperative seromas with the use of substernal and subcutaneous suction drains; and in the last 45 children, a 100% excellent or acceptable result to date. We feel that age selection is an important factor in the improved operative result and in the emotional impact on these young patients. 80% of the children in the recent series were between 3 and 8 yr of age at the time of repair. On the basis of this experience, we now feel confident in recommending our standardized operation for pectus excavatum at an elective age of 4 to 6 yr.
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