Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type




First Advisor

Joni Walton

Second Advisor

Jennifer Elison

Third Advisor

Lauri Fahlberg


The most prevalent congenital chest wall abnormality in children, pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum, effects a child growing up in an appearance focused society. This thesis explored living with a pediatric pectus excavatum, surgery and recovery process. The participants in this study included two individuals, one male and female, between the ages of 17 and 21 years old from Montana. Both of the participants had his and her pectus excavatum deformities corrected by the Nuss procedure at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. This research was qualitative and was based on the phenomenological method which emphasized the everyday lived experiences of a pediatric chest wall deformity. The research was analyzed using Giorgi’s steps of analysis. The themes that emerged from this study include the following: (a) being different, (b) facing limitations, (c) coping with fear, (d) receiving quality nursing care, (e) experiencing pain, and (f) moving forward. The findings of this study can help nurses gain a better understanding of the psychological effect of living with a chest wall deformity as well as how to provide the best patient care during the surgical repair process. The participants in this particular study recommended that nurses show genuine compassion towards patients by taking a personal interest in the patients, effectively communicating with the patient, and encouraging an optimistic outlook on recovery.