Undergoing surgery to correct your pectus excavatum deformity can be frightening. Luckily, you can control this and decide who you want to do the procedure.
You should first consult yourself on your top priorities and goals regarding your deformity.
After that, it is time to choose an expert pectus excavatum surgeon. I researched various forums and came up with a list of top pectus excavatum surgeons that people highly recommend.
Hopefully, this article can help you decide on what surgeon you want to correct your deformity.
Best Surgeons in Europe
I recently stumbled upon a German forum that listed a lot of doctors who operate in Europe. However, four stood out from the rest, and many forum users recommended those four doctors in Europe because of their high pectus excavatum correction rate and general hospitality.
The most experienced surgeons for the Nuss procedure in Europe are:
- Dr. Ronald Lützenberg
- Dr. Klaus Schaarschmidt
- Dr. Hans Pilegaard.
Dr. Ronald Lützenberg
Dr. Lützenberg is considered the best pectus excavatum surgeon in the World. I didn’t find even one negative comment about him in my research for this article. This doctor is known for delivering what he promises to do.
He doesn’t promise too much. Many people with pectus excavatum travel abroad to Magdeburg to undergo surgery done by him.
Here’s an experience report about Dr. Lutzenberg on a German pectus excavatum forum. The female patient said that he is very patient with each patient, explains everything you need to know about the surgery, isn’t persuasive, and tells the patients to think about the surgery carefully.
He answers questions about pectus excavatum via e-mail, and sometimes within 24 hours, which is very rare for doctors of his expertise. Dr. Lutzenberg is a fantastic doctor and human being.
Also, many reputable German pectus excavatum forum members did detailed research about the best surgeon for their deformed chests. Many of them come across Dr. Lutzenberg and the positive outcomes of his surgeries. He checks on the patients post-surgically daily, answers questions, and is very calm.
The surgery costs in the United States of America cost much more than surgeries in Europe.
Half of his pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum surgeries were on adults. He mainly uses the Nuss procedure with modifications.
Where the deformity is very severe (deep and asymmetrical), he uses the modified Nuss procedure, which includes removing deformed cartilage of the chest easier to shape.
He wraps the Pectus bar with fiber thread on both ends, which dissolves in the body in about 100 days. In extreme cases, he uses a stabilizer. He also corrects the rib flare problem of the lower chest, which is very hard to be fixed surgically. He performed more than 1500 Nuss surgeries.
Where He is Now
Dr. Lutzenberg doesn’t work in Magdeburg anymore. He now works in a new clinic for reconstructive surgery in Ostercappeln, Germany. You can see this transition in the German press here.
This new clinic started at the St. Raphael Ostercappeln hospital in the Niels-Stensen Clinic. It is fantastic that he organizes everything, such as appointments himself at his secretariat.
Here’s his contact information:
- St. Raphael Ostercappeln hospital in the Niels-Stensen Clinic.
- Chief Physician: Dr. Ronald Lützenberg
- Address: Bremer Straße 31
- 49179, Ostercappeln
- Telephone number: 05473/ 29 – 366
- Secretariat telephone (if you want to request an appointment, ask something about your deformity, etc.): 05473/ 29 – 376
- Fax: 05473/ 29 – 398
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As of 2022, Dr. Klaus Schaarschmidt performed over 1500 Nuss procedures. He uses the modified Nuss procedure. Usually, he doesn’t use a stabilizer, but the ends of the bar are threaded with fiber thread, which dissolves in the body in 100 days.
He also does pectus carinatum surgeries. Dr. Schaarschmidt charges about € 25,000, while the average Nuss procedure in Germany, according to DRG Germany, costs about €6,000- €10,000 EU.
He is located in Helios Hospital Berlin-Buch.
The address is: Schwanebecker Ch 50, 13125 Berlin, Germany. Phone number: +49 30 940154400
Dr. Hans Pilegaard
Dr. Hans Pilegaard (Aarhus Denmark, Aarhus University Hospital) has performed over 1800 Nuss procedures. I think that he has performed the most Nuss procedures in the World. Swedish Nuss surgeons often recommend him.
Compared to Dr. Luetzenberg, he doesn’t do surgery on the flared ribs. Like the Swedish surgeons, he uses stabilizers on the Pectus bars and fiber thread on the other end. The splints are shorter than usual.
Dr. Pilegaard usually goes to England to do surgery and teaches English surgeons how to do the Nuss procedure. He also corrects pectus carinatum deformities. I’ve read that he retired at the turn of 2015/16. However, he still operates but only one day in the week.
Dr. Onur Tarhan
The operation has been used since 2015 and was upgraded in December 2015. He also has a lot of experience working with the Nuss procedure and worked at the Offenbach Hospital for 33 years.
You can find Dr. Tarhan at the Friedrichsheim Orthopedic University Clinic in Frankfurt, the same clinic he invented his new surgical procedure and operates there.
Dr. Horia Sirbu
Dr. Horia Sirbu specializes in thoracic surgery and is one of Germany’s most experienced pectus excavatum surgeons. He works in the University Hospital in Erlangen, Germany.
According to a comment I stumbled upon on a German pectus excavatum forum, one user said he had a direct conversation with Dr. Sirbu. The doctor told him he has been doing pectus excavatum surgeries for 15 years and had about 150 patients with no deformity recurrence after bar removal.
Dr. Winfried Barthlen
He is a university professor and medical doctor for pediatric surgery.
He currently lives and works in Greifswald, Germany.
His pediatric work is known for its achievements and successes in infant surgery, funnel chest surgery, and hypospadias repair.
He is the head of and works at a surgical hospital department responsible for treating all chest deformity cases, including pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum.
Dr. Bernward Passlick
He’s a Medical Director of the University Medical Center Freiburg’s Thoracic Surgery Department. He has many collaborations with doctors from many countries and has professional expertise in his field.
He specializes in lung cancer extended resections, minimally invasive thoracic surgery, bronchospastic treatments, and lung metastases.
He can help patients with pectus excavatum in both cosmetic and health issues.
In addition to his job, he has authored several publications and regularly participates in international conferences to share his expertise with the community, making his specialization even more worthwhile.
Dr. Kuzmichev Vladimir Alexandrovich
He graduated from the First Moscow State Medical University with a degree in medicine.
At the National Medical Research Center for Oncology, he gained extensive expertise in thoracic surgeries.
Thoracic surgery, video-assisted thoracoscopic operations, and surgeries for congenital chest abnormalities are all of his specialties related to pectus excavatum.
Dr.Kuzmichev is a co-founder and a member of the Chest Wall International Group.
He has written over 300 articles and collections, which shows his knowledge in this area.
Dr. Leoncito Bento
Dr. Leoncito Bento was the former head of the Navarra Hospital Complex about Pediatric Surgery Service.
He was the president of the Spanish Society of Pediatric Surgery. He’s worked with pectus excavatum and other chest deformities for a long time. He began as an assistant and progressed to become a key figure in pediatric care.
He graduated from the Faculty of Barcelona with a degree in Medicine and Surgery.
After finishing his additional study in Germany, he relocated to Pamplona in the 1970s to establish pediatric surgery as a specialization in our town.
Many lives were saved and diagnosed quickly enough to have successful treatment due to his rapid diagnosis and unmistakable education.
Dr. Laureano Molins
Dr. Laureano Molins is a UAB Thoracic Surgery expert with a Doctor of Medicine and Surgery degree (Hospital Universitari Sagrat Cor in Barcelona).
Dr. Molins López-Rodó is a lung cancer doctor specializing in minimally invasive surgery. He is now the Head of Thoracic Surgery at the Hospital Clinic and Sagrat Cor Hospital in Barcelona and has worked at several of the city’s most distinguished institutions.
He received his training at famous institutions such as the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School in the United States.
He has numerous more studies, workshops, and memberships related to his expertise in many countries and crucial institutes, which speaks volumes about his knowledge and experience.
He uses the Nuss method to cure pectus excavatum with great success.
Dr. Marcus Krüger
Prof. Dr. Marcus Krüger and his colleagues analyze protein alterations in diverse illness models using quantitative high-resolution mass spectrometry. Their goal is to find new disease-related pathways and biomarkers that can be a therapeutic target.
Dr. Zan Mitrev
Suppose you live in the Balkan region of Europe. In that case, one of the best cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons you can visit is Dr. Zan Mitrev in Skopje, Macedonia, at the Zan Mitrev Clinic. He uses the Nuss procedure to correct pectus excavatum. You can check his profile and reviews at Pectus.com.
He is a university professor with an ÖÄK diploma in hand surgery and a specialty in plastic, reconstructive, and cosmetic surgery.
Dr. Anton Schwabegger’s other areas of expertise include funnel chest malformations, rib abnormalities, and congenital anomalies.
United States of America
Dawn Jaroszewski (Dr. J)
Dr. Dawn Jaroszewski, popularly known as Dr. J in the pectus excavatum community, is a professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, USA.
In addition, she is also the director of the Mayo Clinic Chest Wall and Thoracic Surgery Programs, which is one of the largest volume pectus correction sites for adults in North America.
She specializes in the correction of pectus excavatum and performed over 1000 surgeries. Dr. J is also a part of over 100 research projects and publications about pectus excavatum.
In 2018, Castle Connolly regarded Dr. Jaroszewski as America’s Top Doctors for Thoracic & Cardiac Surgery.
You can also see what the patients have to say about her work on Pectus.com. Out of 53 reviews, she has a rating of 9.9/10, which makes her one of the best pectus excavatum surgeons on this list.
If you want to contact her, you can do it by clicking on the “Request an Appointment” button here.
Dr. Barry LoSasso
Dr. Barry Losasso is a board-certified pediatric surgeon and is one of the best pectus excavatum surgeons globally.
Dr. Losasso has spent a lot of time working with the creator of the Nuss procedure, Dr. Donald Nuss himself. He was the first surgical attending to train with Dr. Nuss and learn his procedure in 1999.
He is one of the only surgeons in the United States that offers the Nuss procedure for adults and children. As of February 2022, Dr. LoSasso completed over 1200 successful Nuss procedures.
His office address is at 30 West
Century Road, Suite 235
Paramus, New Jersey 07652
The United States.
He earned his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at the University Hospitals of Cincinnati.
Dr. Schneider is a famous orthopedic surgeon.
He specializes in minimally invasive surgery of the shoulder, knee, and chest malformations. He is board-certified and fellowship-educated, which is a guarantee of his success.
Dr.Cory Zieger is a famous orthopedic surgeon. He finished his medical studies at Wayne State University, Detroit.
After his studies, he did many internships and memberships, which built his knowledge and experience.
His specialization is joint replacement, including chest deformations, such as pectus excavatum and shoulder problems, which can occur due to this deformity.
He has a membership all around the World.
Dr. Victor F. Garcia is one of the best surgeons for children with chest malformations.
He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine with a medical degree, and for over 20 years, he saved many lives with his mastery.
He specializes in children treatment who have congenital or acquired chest wall abnormalities. With some of the most comprehensive experience in the country, he evaluates, manages, and repairs structural chest wall issues at the Cincinnati Children’s Chest Wall Center.
Many happy kids and parents can speak for Dr. Garcia’s work. Many people are satisfied with the results after surgery.
Dr. Mark Stovroff
He is a famous pectus surgeon specializing in pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum surgery.
According to numerous people who have shared their experiences with Dr. Mark, he is a remarkable surgeon.
He went to the University of Washington to study medicine.
At UCLA School of Medicine, Dr. Fonkalsrud completed his residency in General and Cardiothoracic Surgery.
He became a full-time faculty member of the UCLA Medical Center’s Department of Surgery and was named the first Chief of Pediatric Surgery.
He was a pioneer in the invention of the ileoanal pouch surgery for ulcerative colitis patients, and he conducted several physiological investigations after this complex treatment. He is a world expert in congenital chest wall abnormalities and their treatment.
He treated many patients with chest deformities and other complications due to the deformation.
He has undertaken more than 15,000 operations in his lifetime.
Dr. Javier Bisbal
Dr. Javier Bisbal Piazuelo was born in Barcelona and finished medical school at the University of Barcelona. He is a specialist in Reconstructive Surgery and has done numerous pectus excavatum surgeries.
That prosthesis is only recommended for cases when the issue is purely cosmetic and does not impair the cardiorespiratory system.
He is a member of many associations related to thoracic surgery and plastic surgery organizations, and he is a partner with many universities and clinics.
His rich professionalism is proof of his success in this field.
Dr. Shyam Kolvekar
He’s a Senior Lecturer at University College London, working on many types of research.
He is particularly interested in beating-heart surgery, cardiac arrhythmias, and minimally invasive cardiac surgery. But, his other specialization is also thoracic medicine, which includes lung cancer, pneumothorax, and pleural effusion.
His two main areas of interest, heart and lungs problems, are linked to pectus abnormalities. That leads to his second specialty in chest wall deformities.
He is a globally recognized adult Nuss surgeon who has modified the Nuss operation with various novel procedures to improve pain management and decrease surgical risks. Those improvements are a big step for us who have this chest deformity.
He also lectures and instructs doctors about this approach and minimally invasive surgery. All of that makes Dr.Kolvekar a big name in pectus excavatum history.
Dr. Mustafa Yuksel
He finished postdoctoral studies in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the Ankara Ataturk Thoracic Diseases and Thoracic Surgery Center.
Dr. Mustafa Yuksel is a pectus surgeon in Kadikoy, Istanbul, Turkey, who specializes in treating patients with pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum.
He produced several articles and chapters in his field about chest wall abnormalities.
He is also a founder member and president of the Chest Wall International Group.
Dr. Hyung Joo Park
Dr. Hyung Joo Park has an MD from Korea University’s College of Medicine in 1989 and his MS from Korea University a few years later.
He also earned his MD and Ph.D. from Medical Korea University.
He assists many patients and has won the esteem of numerous patients worldwide as a specialist in pectus excavatum – pectus carinatum by practicing minimally invasive surgery and lung-esophagus surgery.
Dr. Hyung Joo Park has worked with worldwide institutions throughout his career, where he has shared his expertise with other professionals, making him one of the leading names in these health problems.
Choosing a Doctor By Yourself
Many young people with pectus excavatum or pectus carinatum go to their GP for help with their deformity. Unfortunately, there are many cases where the GP doesn’t have enough knowledge about pectus deformities.
- Sometimes the doctor says the deformity is something you will live with forever because they don’t know surgery or non-surgical treatment exists.
- In other cases, the GP knows surgery exists but knows it is excruciating and torturing and doesn’t recommend it to the patient as an option, not realizing that surgical procedures have evolved and are not as invasive as they used to be.
- It is common when the doctor says the deformity will grow away. This is a widespread and dangerous mistake because the deformation will not go away, but it may worsen in the later years, causing many physical problems. The age where the most effective surgical and non-surgical methods may go by, correcting becoming harder in later years.
- The doctor recommends chest-only exercises and not posture-improving exercises, telling the patient the chest muscle will cover the indentation.
The reason you went to the general practitioner is not to tell you a solution for your problem but to refer you to a thoracic surgeon that specializes in pectus excavatum and will make an assessment.
Benefits of Printing List of Best Surgeons
I think it can be beneficial to print out this list of best pectus excavatum surgeons and mention them to your general practitioner to know where the referral should go to. Generally, the travel costs can be a problem if you live abroad from the doctors on the list.
Because of that, you can find who is the thoracic surgeon that lives closest to you and mention that to your GP. This process is straightforward if you know what surgeon wants to assess you.
You should get a referral and appointment from the thoracic surgeon on who you want to get operated on in about 90 days.
When you go to the clinic you desire, they will first examine your pectus excavatum. Many things, such as X-rays, CT, or MRI, are done to measure your Haller Index.
Then you should do a lung test. If the tests reveal a severe deformity that needs to be operated on, you can sign up on the waiting list for surgery.
Then, you will have to contact the surgeon you choose to operate you. You’ll be told what information you should send, but here’s what you usually need.
- Send your CT / MRI / X-Ray
- Pictures of your physique, especially your upper body and deformity. You should not include your face in the pictures. You generally need six photos of your pectus excavatum. Turn 45° from the left and right, then 90° so you’re in profile. From the left and right, one picture where you face the camera and one of your back. Take the images in daylight and don’t use the flash. You can do it by yourself by using a timer on your camera.
- Write every single physical problem you have with the deformity. You can also mention the mental issues, but they usually go away when your chest is flattened.
- Write when you want to undergo surgery. The date will be used as a reference, and the surgery will be performed close to the date you chose, depending on the surgeon’s schedule. It is wise to do it at least a few months ahead so your social insurance will manage your application and make the surgeon more comfortable in his schedule.
- Write your social security number and your address. This is important so the doctor will send the evaluation to your address so that you can attach it to the pre-application. Dr. Lutzenberg will send it by post to your address, and his signature is included in it. After the CT / MRI / X-Ray, pictures, and your story in his evaluation, a diagnosis will be made. The surgeon will also include the operation plan in the post, so you will know what to expect. If you choose another doctor, ask them to send you a surgery plan and your diagnosis.
- If you have insurance for the surgery, send the application form.
After receiving a message back from your surgeon and the surgery date is set, you should book a plane, flight, or someone to drive you to the clinic. You don’t know how long you need to stay abroad post-surgically.
Because of that, it is recommended to book the ticket back after the doctors tell you when they’ll release you from the hospital. You can also ask your insurance company whether there is compensation for travel.