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Vacuum Bell Treatment for Pectus Excavatum

What Is Pectus Excavatum and Vacuum Bell?

Pectus excavatum (“funnel chest”) is a depression in the chest caused by abnormal growth of the cartilage that attaches the breastbone (sternum) to the ribs. Children with moderate to severe abnormalities may need surgery.

Vacuum Bell Therapy - A Non-Surgical Option

As part of our commitment to provide cutting-edge care, Cincinnati Children’s has started offering a non-invasive therapy. This therapy uses a device called a vacuum bell. The vacuum bell was created in Germany, and is being used around the world. Vacuum bell therapy is best for younger patients with a mild pectus excavatum.

How Does a Vacuum Bell Work?

The vacuum bell acts as a suction cup that lifts the sunken chest. Vacuum bell therapy slowly corrects the pectus excavatum. For the therapy to be successful, the child will need to wear the vacuum bell over a long period of time. This can be for one to two years. The vacuum bell can be an effective non-invasive option for treatment of pectus excavatum.

Pectus excavatum and vacuum bell treatment

Who Is a Good Candidate for Vacuum Bell Therapy?

At a child’s first visit, we evaluate to see if the child is a good fit for the vacuum bell. Results of the vacuum bell are best if:

  • The child has a flexible chest wall and;
  • The depth of the child’s pectus excavatum is less than 1.5cm and;
  • The child is less than 12 years old.

If the team determines that the vacuum bell is a good treatment for your child, they will be fitted for a specific size. The child will go home with the vacuum bell at the first visit. They will return to the clinic every three months for an evaluation and change in pressure.

Reviewed By Camille Woods, Specialist – Program Management, Pediatric Surgery, Abigail Sester, RN, Pediatric Surgery

Last Updated 10/2020

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