How Much Does Pectus Excavatum Surgery Cost?

Written by: Staff
Last Updated:  August 10, 2018

Pectus excavatum is the most common congenital deformity of the chest’s anterior wall where several ribs, as well as the sternum, grows abnormally, producing a sunken or caved-in appearance of the chest. This deformity can either be present at birth or not develop until puberty.

The exact cause of this deformity is not understood, but it’s believed to be as a result of an overgrowth of the rib cartilage attached to the sternum, resulting in the sternum getting pushed back toward the spine.

Treatment for pectus excavatum can either involve invasive or non-invasive procedures or a combination of both.

How much does pectus excavatum surgery cost?

The average cost of pectus excavatum surgery alone costs around $15,000 to $45,000+ without health insurance, according to those who have had the surgery in the past and posted their quotes online.  Longer hospital stays could get close to the six-figure mark, however.  These costs will all depend on the severity of the case, the type of surgery, the hospital, the inclusions with the bill, other appointments and if insurance is involved.

According to this forum thread, many members talked about the prices they had paid, with quotes ranging from as little as $30,000 to more than $90,000+ without any insurance.  One member, in particular, on this forum thread, said they had paid $28,300 for the insertion and another $14,200 for the removal.  Another said they were quoted $50,000 from Milwaukee Children’s Hospital, but they were able to negotiate it down to $36,000.

A blog post on broke down the entire costs for the Nuss Procedure, which included the pharmacy, supplies, EKG, room and board, anesthesia, lab work, radiologist fees, physical therapy and pulmonary function.  In the end, the grand total was $56,449.

Pectus excavatum surgery overview

There are a variety of surgical procedures, but the three most popular methods include the highly modified Ravitch technique, the Nuss Procedure and the Leonard procedure.

The Ravitch procedure is done via an incision across the mid-chest.  During this procedure, the abnormal cartilage is removed, allowing the sternum to move forward, and this procedure can take up to six hours to complete.

The Nuss procedure, considered to be the gold standard for treatment, is achieved by bending a steel bar to fit in the chest bar.  This bar is inserted and secured through a tiny incision under each arm, and this procedure takes up to two hours to perform.  A SIMPLE Nuss procedure is also available, which won’t require a hospital stay.

What are the extra costs?

With any hospital stays, be prepared to receive multiple bills outside of the fees mentioned above.  This can include anesthesiologist fees, radiologist fees and surgeon fees, to name a few.  Be sure to talk with the hospital ahead of time to know which bills you will be responsible for.  The link above did a good job breaking down all of the extra bills they received in relation to their procedure.

A number of tests will be required before the surgery is even considered, including CT/MRI scans, consultations, a pulmonary function test, metal allergy test, heart sonogram and others, depending on the circumstances of the surgery.  These tests, outside of the estimates mentioned prior, could reach well into the thousands of dollars.

Prescription medication will be prescribed after the surgery.  Without insurance, this could cost more than $1,000 without insurance.

Physical therapy after the surgery will be necessary.  Without insurance, sessions can cost more than $100 each.

In some cases, you may have to travel long distances to find a specialist who can you work with.  This can lead to additional transportation and hotel costs.

After the surgery, the metal struts will be removed one year after the insertion.  This is an outpatient procedure and can be done in less than an hour.  Depending on the billing policy, this can be an additional cost to consider.

Tips to know:

Pectus excavatum repair, also known as chest deformity repair or funnel chest repair, is a surgery type performed to correct pectus excavatum, which is a deformity of the front section of the chest wall having depression of the breastbone. The primary purpose of repair surgery is correcting the deformity to improve the patient’s physical appearance, posture, breathing, and cardiac function. Typically, this is accomplished by means of removing a segment of the deformed cartilage and repositioning the breastbone.

The University of California San Francisco notes the Nuss procedure is a painful procedure, and most children, on average, will stay up to five days in the hospital.  During this time, an epidural catheter will be placed in the back, administering continuous pain medication for several days after the surgery.

How can I save money?

As always, see if your health insurance provider can cover your pectus excavatum surgery.  Depending on your policy, some insurance companies won’t cover it as they deem it unnecessary, whereas another carrier may cover it if they deem it medically necessary.   Some procedures, according to some doctors, consider it a cosmetic surgical procedure and, unfortunately, most companies won’t cover it.

If you don’t have health insurance or a policy that won’t cover the procedure, talk with the finance department to see if they can either offer a cash discount or offer a low-interest finance plan.

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