Pectus excavatum, also known as hollow chest, is a depression of the anterior chest wall that can be centrally located or can be more pronounced on one of the two sides (asymmetrical chest). Some children are already born with a Pectus Escavatum, while in other cases the deformity, considered a minor defect in the first years of life, becomes significantly worse during pubertal development.
Generally there are no serious consequences related to this deformity, except in extreme cases in which the sinking is such as to cause cardiac problems (the most common is compression of the right atrium) and respiratory (but this happens in few cases, most patients with PE is asymptomatic). In these severe cases, it is necessary to intervene surgically by Nuss technique.
In other cases, although there are no respiratory or cardiac consequences, there are still important psychological consequences, since the aesthetic aspect related to Pectus Excavatum can lead, especially in children and adolescents, to serious insecurities. In these cases a possible corrective treatment consists in “filling” the depression with a tailor-made prosthesis in silicone elastomer.
Starting from this type of treatment, a new methodology has been devised for the design of custom-made prostheses to be made with Additive Manufacturing techniques thanks to the collaboration with Bellaseno GmbH. The company has in fact developed 3D printed scaffolds in polycaprolactone (PCL), an absorbable material, to be used as support and containment for autologous fat grafting.