What is the Ravitch Operation Like and What are the Complications?

The Ravitch procedure involves removal of the ends of the ribs where they are attached to the sternum. However, the lining membrane around the rib is left in place. The sternum is then broken horizontally at the point where it turns downward and is straightened out. It is held in this position using stitches, the adjacent ribs and usually a metal bar or strut that goes under the sternum to keep it in an outward position. This all takes place under the skin. This operation generally is referred to as the Ravitch procedure, named for the surgeon who developed it.

Like any operation, there is going to be postoperative pain, which is treated with either intravenous painkillers or an epidural catheter. An epidural catheter is frequently used for women undergoing childbirth for relief from labor pains. Usually, the patient is given oral pain medicines by the third day following the operation.

There have been very few complications associated with this operation. There have been no instances in which the patient required a blood transfusion, although a sample of blood is taken as a precaution. Infection is rare, as well. However, occasionally, a patient develops a fluid collection under the skin requiring removal with the use of a syringe.

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