YOUR HEALTH: Cryo nerve block numbs the pain for sunken chest surgery

One in 400 babies born today will have a deformity called pectus excavatum.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 5:50 AM CDT|Updated: May. 25, 2023 at 6:56 AM CDT
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DENVER, Colo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - One in 400 babies born today will have a deformity called pectus excavatum - or sunken chest. While most of the defects are improved before the baby turns one, some become worse as the child grows. To correct it as a teen, the surgery is invasive and extremely painful. Now, surgeons are using a breakthrough technique to freeze the pain away.

Pectus excavatum, or sunken chest, looks like a child’s breastbone literally sinking into their chest.

Some children are born with it, for others, it appears before puberty. It can cause kids to have trouble breathing, a rapid heartbeat, and chest pain. It can also cause a heart murmur, fatigue, and dizziness. It can also worsen with growth.

Pediatric surgeon Kristen Shipman, MD, at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, says the surgery to correct it can be painful. But now, a new groundbreaking procedure is changing that.

“We’re able to freeze each intercostal nerve that runs underneath the rib on both sides,” Dr. Shipman explains.

Cryo nerve block uses a probe that is cooled to minus 60 degrees Celsius to deaden the nerves that transmit the pain signals.

Dr. Shipman further explains, “We use two incisions along the lower ribs and we can put a camera into the chest on the left side and watch us freeze each one of those nerve bundles underneath the rib.”

This injures the nerves without permanently damaging them.

“That nerve will repair itself and regrow where it was frozen,” Dr. Shipman adds.

There’s less pain immediately following the surgery, the nerve block last for four to six months, eliminating the need for pain medication, and gives these kids a way to look and feel normal faster.

Cryo nerve block is not only being used in surgeries for sunken chests, but also to reduce pain for cancer patients and other forms of neuropathic pain.

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