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Minimization of the complications associated with bar removal after the Nuss procedure in adults.

BACKGROUND: Pectus bar removal after Nuss repair is associated with the risk of major complications that are underreported. Of these, surgical bleeding is the main concern. Old age and placement of more than one bar are reported risk factors for pectus bar removal. In this study, we presented our experience regarding the modified skills required to minimize complications during bar removal, especially in adult patients.

METHODS: Consecutive patients who underwent pectus bar removal as the final stage of Nuss repair between August 2014 and December 2018 were included. The patients were positioned in the supine position. The bar(s) was (were) removed from the left side via the bilateral approach using the previous surgical scars after full dissection of the ends of the bar lateral to the hinge point and after straightening the right end of the bar. Bleeding was carefully checked after removal. An elastic bandage was wrapped around the chest after wound closure to prevent wound hematoma/seroma formation.

RESULTS: A total of 283 patients (260 male and 23 female), with a mean age of 22.8 ± 6.6 years at the time of the Nuss repair were included. The mean duration of pectus bar maintenance interval was 4.3 years (range: 1.9 to 9.8 years). A total of 200 patients (71%) had two bars. The mean estimated blood loss was 11.7 mL (range: 10 mL to 100 mL). Nine patients (3.1%) experienced complications, six had pneumothorax and three had wound hematoma. No major bleeding occurred. Adults and the use of more than one bar were not associated with a significantly higher rate of complications (P = 0.400 and P = 0.260, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Adult patients and removal of multiple bars were not risk factors for complications in our cohort. Skill in preventing intraoperative mediastinal traction, carefully controlling bleeding, and reducing the effect of dead space around the wounds could minimize the risk of bleeding complications. A multicentric study or case accumulation is needed to further evaluate the risk factors of removal pectus bar(s).

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