Shriners chest surgery seen as breakthrough
Published Wednesday, August 20, 2014 7:56PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 21, 2014 8:37AM EDT
Mackenzie Cave had hoped the condition which caused his chest to extend outward would eventually disappear after he first noticed it at age 10.
But it continued to worsen.
Until, that is, he became the first Canadian to undergo an operation to correct a chest deformity called Pectus Carinatum, performed at the Shriners Hospital.
Pectus carinatum affects about one in 1,500 children and in Cave's case, action was needed.
“Once I hit my growth spurts it actually got worse, as I was growing it was getting more and more protruding which was getting more and more uncomfortable for me,” said Cave, now 17.
Most patients can be healed with a brace but that treatment is ineffective for some, so Dr. Sherif Emil placed a metal bar inside Cave’s chest to reshape the chest cavity.
“We had to get Health Canada approval, we had to do many dry runs in our operating rooms because this had not been done before, we had to acquire new equipment that had never been used before in our operating room,” said Emil, Co-Director of the Chest Wall Anomalies Clinic at the Shriners Hospital.
Patients of the affliction had previously been forced to endure an invasive and painful surgery which involved separating the sternum from the ribs.
"This procedure had never been considered in Canada, so it’s really going to open the entire area of chest anomalies,” said Emil. “Most patients can still be treated without surgery for this condition we probably wont perform it for more than three or four times a year.”
Cave said that the result of having a bar inside his chest for several years resulted in a peculiar sensation.
“Picture having a bar on your chest, just pulling it back that's exactly what it felt like, when I was breathing I could feel the bar there but now it's perfect, back to normal, everything's fine,” he said.