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Understanding Chest Wall Reconstruction: Indications and Procedures

chest wall reconstruction

Chest wall reconstruction is a surgical procedure that involves the repair, restoration, or restructuring of the chest wall, which is the framework of bones and tissues that form the chest cavity.  Tumors, infection, radiation necrosis, and trauma are the most common reasons for a chest wall reconstruction or resection.

Anatomy of the Chest

The chest wall serves as a protective cage for the organs in the chest and upper abdomen, including the heart, lungs, and liver. The chest wall also supports breathing and helps to stabilize the shoulders and arms. It comprises of the ribs, spinal column, sternum, and surrounding muscles and blood vessels.

However, infection, chest wall abnormalities or defects, trauma (such as a fall from a great height), lung cancer, or certain diseases can all cause damage to the structures of the chest wall. All of these can necessitate chest reconstruction surgery or chest resection that may include the removal of parts of the chest wall, such as the sternum, ribs, or soft tissue.

The Concept of Chest Wall Reconstruction

Chest wall reconstruction surgery is a procedure designed to restore and reconstruct the structure of the chest wall. This surgery is typically performed after trauma, tumor removal, or other conditions that have affected the integrity of the chest wall.

It involves rebuilding the chest wall using various techniques, such as bone grafts, synthetic materials, or muscle flaps, to provide support and maintain the shape of the chest. The goal is to improve both the functional and aesthetic aspects of the chest wall, promoting optimal recovery and quality of life for the patient.

Difference between Chest Wall Resection and Reconstruction


Chest Wall Resection

Chest Wall Reconstruction



Involves the removal of a portion of the chest wall, which may include ribs, muscles, or other tissues.


Aims to maintain the shape of the chest and facilitate optimal recovery.



Typically performed to treat conditions such as tumors, cancers, or traumatic injuries affecting the chest wall.

Necessary when a significant portion of the chest wall has been removed, and reconstruction is required for support, protection of internal organs, and cosmetic reasons.



In this procedure, our surgeon carefully excises the affected part of the chest wall, ensuring complete removal of diseased tissue while aiming to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible.

In this procedure, our surgeon uses various techniques, such as bone grafts, synthetic materials, or muscle flaps, to rebuild the chest wall and provide support.

Indication of Chest Wall Reconstruction

Here are various scenarios that may warrant chest wall reconstruction:

  • Congenital Conditions: Pectus Excavatum, Pectus Carinatum, Poland Syndrome.
  • Infectious or Inflammatory Issues: Radiation Necrosis, Osteomyelitis, Empyema, Bronchopleural Fistula, post-sternotomy.
  • Traumatic Injuries: Flail Chest (fractures involving three adjacent ribs in two or more places).
  • Malignancies: Primary or Secondary, including direct invasion from surrounding tissues.

Chest Wall Reconstruction Procedure

  • Preoperative Assessment: A thorough evaluation of the patient’s health, including imaging studies, is conducted to plan the reconstructive procedure.
  • Surgical Techniques: Various techniques may be employed, including the use of bone grafts, synthetic materials, or muscle flaps, depending on the extent of chest wall loss and the specific needs of the patient.
  • Bone Grafts: Autologous bone grafts (patient’s own bone) or allografts (donor bone) may be used to replace missing or resected sections of the chest wall.
  • Synthetic Materials: Implants or prosthetic materials made of titanium, mesh, or other biocompatible substances can be used to reconstruct the chest wall.
  • Muscle Flaps: Muscles from nearby areas may be repositioned to provide structural support and enhance the healing process.
  • Closure: The surgical site is carefully closed, ensuring proper alignment of tissues for optimal functionality and cosmetic outcome.
  • Postoperative Care: Patients undergo a period of recovery and rehabilitation, with close monitoring for complications, infection, and proper wound healing.
  • Multidisciplinary Approach: Chest wall reconstruction often involves collaboration between surgeons, including general surgeons, plastic surgeons, and thoracic surgeons, to address complex cases comprehensively.
  • Long-Term Follow-up: Continuous follow-up is essential to monitor the patient’s progress, manage any issues that may arise, and ensure the reconstructed chest wall’s long-term success.

Benefits of Chest Wall Reconstruction

  • Improved Respiratory Function: In cases where chest wall resection affects respiratory muscles or lung function, reconstruction can enhance breathing capacity and respiratory mechanics.
  • Aesthetic Improvement: Reconstruction aims to restore a natural appearance, minimizing deformities resulting from trauma, tumors, or previous surgeries.
  • Enhanced Quality of Life: By addressing functional and cosmetic concerns, chest wall reconstruction contributes to an improved quality of life for individuals who have undergone chest wall resection.
  • Organ Protection: The reconstructed chest wall provides a protective barrier for internal organs, preventing displacement and improving overall organ function.
  • Psychological Well-being: Aesthetic improvements resulting from reconstruction can positively impact an individual’s self-esteem, body image, and overall psychological well-being.
  • Minimized Risk of Complications: Proper chest wall reconstruction reduces the risk of complications related to exposed organs, instability, and respiratory compromise.

Chest Wall Reconstruction surgery by our cardiothoracic specialist, Dr Taj Chowdhry

Chest Wall Reconstruction surgery by our dedicated and skilled cardiothoracic specialist, Dr Taj Chowdhry, can greatly improve the quality of life for those suffering from chest wall deformities or injuries. With decades of experience in this specialized field, patients can trust that they are receiving the best care possible.

Don’t let a chest wall issue hold you back any longer – schedule a consultation with Dr Taj today and take the first step towards a healthier and more confident you.

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