Post-Operative Recovery

At the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, recovery staff are specially trained to care for children and adolescents. Immediately following surgery, patients spend a brief period recovering in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU). Our pediatric nurses and anesthesiologists carefully monitor the recovery from anesthesia and help control any pain. It typically takes a patient a few hours to fully regain their senses after anesthesia. At this time, the child is moved to a regular room.

Following surgery, our team continues to work closely with the pediatric anesthesia and pain medicine specialists. We provide any necessary medications to minimize side effects such as nausea, vomiting, itching, constipation, drowsiness and sedation. Our goal is to keep patients comfortable and help them move around as soon as possible. Patients are typically out of bed in a chair on the first day after surgery. Our team teaches deep-breathing exercises to assist with recovery. In addition, our physical therapists begin helping with movement and exercises. They can also provide instructions on recovery.

Anesthesia & Pain Service

Our anesthesia and pain medicine specialists work with you and your child before and after surgery to provide a patient-centered, individualized plan to address pain control. Our patients typically have an epidural catheter or a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) device for post-operative pain management. We also use other medications to help manage pain in order to ensure that patients stay comfortable.

Hospital Stay & Discharge

The typical hospital stay is four to five days. Once a patient is able to walk around independently and no longer requires intravenous (IV) pain medicines, he or she is ready for discharge. Patients are transitioned to oral pain medications including ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, opioids (morphine-like pain pills) and stool softeners as needed. These medications are extremely important to ensure adequate pain control. Patients are gradually weaned off of these medications as pain improves.

Long-Term Follow-Up

Post-operative evaluations occur approximately two weeks after discharge from the hospital and again at six, 12 and 24 months until bar removal.

Bar Removal

Bar removal following pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum repair is done electively between two and three years after the initial surgery. The original incisions are used to remove the bar. The removal surgery is much less extensive than the placement surgery and is performed on an outpatient basis. Patients usually only require oral narcotics for pain control and are able to return to normal activity within two weeks.