Surgical repair of pectus excavatum markedly improves body image and perceived ability for physical activity: Multicenter study

Robert E. Kelly, Thomas F. Cash, Robert C. Shamberger, Karen K. Mitchell, Robert B. Mellins, M. Louise Lawson, Keith Oldham, Richard G. Azizkhan, Andre V. Hebra, Donald Nuss, Michael J. Goretsky, Ronald J. Sharp, George W. Holcomb, Walton K T Shim, Stephen M. Megison, R. Lawrence Moss, Annie H. Fecteau, Paul M. Colombani, Traci Bagley, Amy QuinnAlan B. Moskowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. This study evaluated changes in both physical and psychosocial quality of life reported by the parent and child after surgical repair of pectus excavatum. METHODS. As part of a multicenter study of pectus excavatum, a previously validated tool called the Pectus Excavatum Evaluation Questionnaire was administered by the research coordinator, via telephone, to parents and patients (8-21 years of age) before and 1 year after surgery. Eleven North American children's hospitals participated. From 2001 to 2006, 264 patients and 291 parents completed the initial questionnaire, and 247 patients and 274 parents completed the postoperative questionnaire. Responses used a Likert-type scale of 1 to 4, reflecting the extent or frequency of a particular experience, with higher values conveying less-desirable experience. RESULTS. Preoperative psychosocial functioning was unrelated to objective pectus excavatum severity (computed tomographic index). Patients and their parents reported significant positive postoperative changes. Improvements occurred in both physical and psychosocial functioning, including less social self-consciousness and a more-favorable body image. For children, the body image component improved from 2.30 ± 0.62 (mean ± SD) to 1.40 ± 0.42 after surgery and the physical difficulties component improved from 2.11 ± 0.82 to 1.37 ± 0.44. For the parent questionnaire, the child's emotional difficulties improved from 1.81 ± 0.70 to 1.24 ± 0.36, social self-consciousness improved from 2.86 ± 1.03 to 1.33 ± 0.68, and physical difficulties improved from 2.14 ± 0.75 to 1.32 ± 0.39. Ninety-seven percent of patients thought that surgery improved how their chest looked. CONCLUSIONS. Surgical repair of pectus excavatum can significantly improve the body image difficulties and limitations on physical activity experienced by patients. These results should prompt physicians to consider the physiologic and psychological implications of pectus excavatum just as they would any other physical deformity known to have such consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1218-1222
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Body image
  • Comparative study
  • Exercise capacity
  • Multicenter study
  • Nuss procedure
  • Open procedure
  • Outcomes research
  • Pectus excavatum
  • Quality of life
  • Ravitch procedure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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