Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD), a healthcare research center that specializes in deformities of the chest wall, performed two non-surgical procedures to treat pectus excavatum, a common type of chest deformity. Pectus excavatum is also known colloquially as sunken chest syndrome. This disease is usually caused by a significant overgrowth of tissue and cartilage in the sternum and ribs.
The non-surgical corrective device consists of a vacuum bell device, monitoring tools and a vacuum pump assembly. The device uses sustained negative air pressure to manipulate the structure of the chest cavity. The negative air pressure tool used in this procedure is similar to devices used by automotive technicians to pop out a dent in a vehicle.
In prepared remarks, project leader Robert Obermeyer said, "Years from now, we may look at the surgeries and realize that many of these conditions could have been corrected with vacuum devices.” He continued, "CHKD has always made efforts to minimize surgical intervention and I believe this could eliminate the need for surgery in some pectus excavatum patients."
The hospital will be monitoring the progress of all patients undergoing this experimental procedure. According to information released by the hospital, patients must use the device for at least 60 minutes every day for up to six months. The device must be further used for at least two years to ensure permanent correction.