PCH, Mayo Clinic perform special surgery on patients from across US

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- "This surgery has a really huge impact on a person's self-confidence, a person's overall health and well-being," said Michael, who was born with a birth defect known as Pectus Excavatum. "For the last 35 years of my life, I've been dealing with this birth defect that has created a lot of problems related to my overall health."

It's a condition where the chest appears sunken, and it affects about one in 450 people. The symptoms can be mild, such as shortness of breath and fatigue when exercising. More severe cases often compromise heart and lung function.

"We've been doing the Nuss procedure, this procedure to fix children's chests that were indented, for about eight years," said Dr. David Notrica, a surgeon at Phoenix Children's Hospital. "It became clear to us that it was time to actually start making improvements in the way the procedure was done."

PCH is now one of the busiest centers in the country for this type of surgery.

"We partnered with the surgeons at the Mayo Clinic, who are just starting up this program, and said, 'Look, let's look at aspects of this that we can do better,' and we changed the way the procedure was done," Notrica said.

Several patients recently traveled to the Valley from across the United States and have successfully undergone surgery for Pectus Excavatum, just in time for the holidays.

"We didn't invent the procedure, we just made it better," Notrica said. "We did about 150 Pectuses last year between the Mayo Clinic and Phoenix Children's Hospital, and we really are extremely pleased with the results. We're pleased with our patients."