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Study to explore using magnets to correct 'sunken chest'

Researchers at UCSF Children's Hospital in San Francisco have launched a groundbreaking study to determine whether a new procedure using magnets can correct sunken chest, the most common congenital chest deformity, in the same way that orthodontic braces gradually realign teeth.

Sunken chest, which is known medically as pectus excavatum, is a deformity of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone. The deformed cartilage pulls the breastbone inward, making the chest look caved in or sunken. The condition occurs in about one in 800 children born in the United States each year and is three times more common in boys than girls.

A UCSF team developed the new procedure, in which a magnet attached to the child's breastbone is coupled with a second one outside the chest that creates a steady, controlled, outward pull on the internal magnet to reshape the bone, cartilage and chest wall.

The procedure marks one of the first times magnets have been embedded inside the body to treat a health condition, according to Michael Harrison, MD, professor of surgery and pediatrics emeritus at UCSF and lead investigator of the study.

"We needed to apply a force to gradually remodel the chest wall without piercing the skin," Harrison said. "Magnets do it."

The research team named the new technique the "Magnetic Mini-Mover Procedure," known as 3MP. The 3MP uses a device that includes two parts: a titanium-encased magnet about the size of a quarter that is surgically attached to the child's breastbone and a second magnet embedded in a lightweight plastic brace that the child wears under clothing. The attraction between the two magnets holds the brace in place.

Because the internal magnet is placed just under the skin during an outpatient visit, the child can go home on the day of the procedure with relatively little discomfort. The child wears the brace for three to 12 months, depending on the severity of the deformit
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Source:University of California - San Francisco


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