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Study to Explore Using Magnets to Correct 'sunken Chest'

of the deformity. It can be adjusted to increase or decrease the pull on the breastbone in the same way that orthodontic braces are loosened or tightened.

If successful, the 3MP could revolutionize treatment of pectus excavatum, according to Harrison. Current approaches to correcting sunken chest involve major surgery to open and rebuild the chest and the insertion of metal struts to hold the chest in place while it heals. Complications can occur because the struts are under significant pressure, and the painful recovery can take months.

"The problem with present techniques is that they attempt to reshape the chest wall in one big operation," Harrison said. "A better idea is to apply a little force over a longer time, like the orthodontist moves your teeth."

The use of the magnets has been deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has reviewed and approved the 3MP device. The internal magnet is laser-welded in a titanium case, assuring its safety. The magnets have been found to have no effect on the heart or other body parts, and studies have demonstrated that long-term exposure to magnetic fields is not harmful.

Sunken chest had long been considered a cosmetic defect. But recent studies have determined that while not life-threatening, in severe cases the deformity can cause heart and breathing difficulties, because the abnormal breast bone can reduce blood flow to the heart and prevent the lungs from expanding completely, restricting the ability to exercise, according to Harrison. Some patients also suffer serious emotional difficulties and low self-esteem, especially since sunken chest often worsens during adolescence when children are self-conscious about their appearance and seek peer acceptance.

"This is not a trivial problem for these kids," Harrison said. "Most are willing to undergo a big, painful and expensive surgery to fix it. Why not a simple little outpatient procedure to fix
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