The length of time spent in the PACU will depend upon your child's response to the surgery and anesthesia. Typically, children who have undergone the Nuss Procedure are moved to a regular room within a few hours.

Pain Management 

To manage any pain your child might experience, the healthcare professionals at CHKD will use a pain-controlled analgesia (PCA) pump. The pump allows you or your child to push a button to release a small dose of pain medication (based on your child's weight). It is important to NOT to push the button while your child is sleeping.

The PCA machine is programmed to allow a specific dose of medication, and the timer on the machine controls how often the medication can be dispensed, even if you or your child pushes the button more frequently. 

Pain medications may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, itching, constipation, or sedation/excessive sleepiness. Your child's doctors will order medications to manage these side effects.

What Can a Parent do to Help?

Because children can't always verbalize what they are feeling, it may be very challenging to determine the level of pain your child is experiencing. Your child's pain management team, which includes your child's surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurses, generally know the expected discomfort after a given procedure and can prescribe medication for it. But keep in mind, you, as a parent, know your child best. The team will work closely with you to manage your child's pain.

If you feel your child's pain is not well-controlled, or if they are too sleepy or troubled with other side effects, talk to your nurse or doctor.

Hospital Stay

You can expect your child to be in the hospital for four to five days. During that time, we will closely monitor and control their pain, have them do deep-breathing exercises, assist with movement, and provide instructions on recovery.

For the first six hours after the operation, your child will need to remain still to minimize the risk of bar movement. After that time, they can begin to sit up and walk with the help of a physical therapist.

Deep-breathing exercises and walking are very important to help your child breathe easier as they recover. Once your child is able to get up and walk around with little assistance and no longer requires an IV for pain management, they are ready for discharge.

Leaving the Hospital

Your child should be fine to travel home by car or plane. For long distances by car, plan on staying overnight at a hotel so your child can rest comfortably. If you are flying, request the bulkhead seats for more leg room and arrange to have  a wheelchair ready at any layovers.

Once discharged, your child is expected to slowly resume normal, but restricted, activity. Most children are able to return to school in two to three weeks, with exercise restrictions for six weeks (i.e., no physical education, no heavy lifting, etc.). Once your child is fully recovered, they may return to regular activity.

We like our Nuss Center patients to be active before and after surgery. After three months, patients are allowed to return to varsity-level sports, but we discourage contact sports such as football, soccer, and lacrosse.

Your child will need to see their pediatrician or primary care physician for a surgical postoperative visit within two to four weeks of returning home. We will contact your child's doctor regarding their surgery and what to look for during the postoperative visit. If you live locally, your child will return to our office for this visit.

We recommend follow-up visits to CHKD at six months, one year, and at your child's three- or four-year anniversary for bar removal.