We would heartily recommend Dr. Nuchtern. We especially appreciated his honesty and circumspection/prudence. He did not give us a hard sell, but recommended surgery in part because he himself values exercise at intense levels (and the P.E. affected our son’s endurance/ability to perform intense exercise). He has been performing the Nuss procedure for decades, several a year, and custom-shapes the bars himself. Even with pandemic-era Telemedicine he communicated well, listened well, and took time to explain answers.
We interviewed other families who’d had Nuss procedure. Cryoablation makes a huge difference per pt. & nurse reports, & Dr. N strongly recommended it. Dr. N gave us -scopic photos of “before” where the chestbone had been pressing on his heart (pericardium, really), of the cryo tool, and of the new space created under the bars. That morning he decided to use 2 bars. During surgery he wasn’t satisfied with a dimpling effect of the second bar, so he removed it and reinserted it at a different level relative to the muscle, with better results. So it took longer, but Dr. N has high standards, tenacity, and priceless experience. I trusted him.
The operating-room liaison didn’t have all the details right, but remembered my questions and made a huge difference in how I felt waiting. He was correct that Dr. N wasn’t worried about reasons for longer surgery time. He made it sound like they were using the crane-like device to lift the chest externally, but in fact Dr. N was pleased with the elevation after the first bar insertion, and didn’t want the extra incisions that device requires, so he never used it.
The first night in the hospital was especially hard: Our son had an irregular heartbeat (prolonged QT interval) the many hours he was on anesthesia, and it improved as the methadone wore off, but we had to stay for 24 hours of telemetry monitoring, with lots of alarms, & which tied him up so he couldn’t walk to the restroom & had to use urinal. Plus Zofran can cause the same heart irregularities, so he had a substitute drug and lots of nausea anyway. Just say no to the jello! Hard to keep down. Our son is not a complainer, even though his Haller index and stress test indicated how much he’d been impacted. But I never realized how much the cosmetics affected his self-confidence until I saw how thrilled he was to see his new chest after the surgery, something he’d never dared to hope for before.
He is recovering speedily. No complaints at all (as of numbness or tingling) from Cryoablation so far. He has been sleeping elevated in an easy chair for this month so far. We talked to one family where the son played football after Nuss and someone landed on his chest and bent the bar, collapsing his lung. Spoke to 2 people who didn’t have cryoablation. Feeling very fortunate and that we made the right decisions and had great care. Thank you, Dr. Nuchtern and TX Children’s teams! (Love all the specialists being right there available at TX Children’s)