Improved cardiac function and exercise capacity following correction of pectus excavatum: a review of current literature
Patients with pectus excavatum (PE) often describe improvements in exercise stamina following corrective surgery. Studies have investigated the surgical effect on physiological parameters; still, no consensus has yet been reached. Therefore, the aim of this literature review was to describe the cardiac outcome after surgical correction, both at rest and during exercise. In February 2016, a detailed search of the databases PubMed, Medline, and EMBASE was performed. We assessed clinical studies that described cardiac outcomes both before and after surgical correction of PE. We only included studies reporting either pre-defined echocardiographic or exercise test parameters. No exclusion criteria or statistical analyses were applied. Twenty-one full-text articles, published between 1972 and 2016, were selected, with cohort-ranges of 3–168 patients, mean age-ranges of 5–33 years, and mean follow-up-ranges from immediately to 4 years after surgery. Twelve studies described resting cardiac parameters. Four studies measured cardiac output, where one described 36% immediate increase after surgery, one reported 15% increase after Nuss-bar removal and two found no difference. Three studies demonstrated improvement in mean stroke volume ranges of 22–34% and two studies found no difference. Fifteen studies investigated exercise capacity, with 11 considering peak O2 pr. kg, where five studies demonstrated improvements with the mean ranging from 8% to 15% after surgery, five studies demonstrated no difference, and one saw a decrease of 19% 3 months after Nuss-bar implantation. A measurable increase in exercise capacity exists following surgery, which may be caused by multiple factors. This may be owed to the relief of compressed cardiac chambers with the increased anterior-posterior thoracic dimensions, which could facilitate an improved filling of the heart. With these results, the positive physiological impact of the surgery is emphasized and the potential gain in cardiac function should be integrated in the clinical assessment of patients with PE.