for people ages 13 years and up (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
estimated completion:
Benjamin Padilla Sunghoon Kim



The purpose of this study is to determine whether cryoanalgesia provides better pain control for minimally invasive pectus excavatum repair (the Nuss procedure) than thoracic epidural.

Official Title

Pain Control in the Nuss Procedure: A Prospective, Randomized Trial of Cryoanalgesia vs. Thoracic Epidural


Pain control is a major challenge for physicians, who must ensure appropriate and effective pain control for their patients, while remaining mindful of the many negative effects of opioid dependence and addiction. Nowhere is there a more pressing need than in children and young adults, who are at high risk for drug abuse, and in post-operative care, since post-operative opioid use can be a starting point for long-term pain issues. Postoperative pain control in the Nuss procedure, minimally invasive repair of the congenital chest wall deformity known as pectus excavatum, remains a significant problem for the 3000 patients who undergo this procedure each year, mostly adolescents and young adults. Many multimodal analgesic regimens have been tried, but optimal treatment remains unknown.

This study will test a novel and promising strategy of using intra-operative cryoanalgesia during the Nuss procedure. Cryoanalgesia is the localized, temporary freezing of peripheral nerves, which is performed at the time of the Nuss procedure. The study is a 20-subject prospective, randomized pilot trial comparing cryoanalgesia to thoracic epidural analgesia for post-operative pain control in patients undergoing the Nuss procedure. Subjects will be recruited from patients already scheduled for a Nuss procedure at our institution, and will undergo 1:1 randomization to either cryoanalgesia or thoracic epidural analgesia for perioperative pain control. During their hospitalization, patients' opiate usage will be prospectively recorded, and pain will be assessed twice per day. Upon discharge, patients will maintain a log of their opiate use, and will return to clinic at 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, and 1 year after Nuss procedure for post-operative assessment. Primary outcome is length of perioperative hospitalization, an objective measure that synthesizes many different aspects of a procedure and its subsequent post-operative course, including pain control. Secondary outcomes are post-operative narcotic usage and direct cost of perioperative hospitalization. Side effects of both interventions will also be assessed.

This will be the first systematic investigation of cryoanalgesia for local nerve block in a thoracoscopic procedure, and the first study involving its use in adolescents and young adults. The results will have direct application for those undergoing the Nuss procedure to repair pectus excavatum. Investigators will also delineate a reproducible protocol for delivering cryoanalgesia thoracoscopically, to ensure others can safely and effectively use this method if it proves beneficial. Although the focus is on the small subset of patients who undergo the Nuss procedure, if a standardized approach to cryoanalgesia delivery in a thoracoscopic procedure has a positive effect on patient outcomes and cost of hospitalization, the technique could be applied to a variety of surgical procedures, as well as for other neuropathic pain.


Pectus Excavatum Funnel Chest Nuss Nuss Procedure cryoanalgesia Fentanyl Thoracic epidural (ropivicaine, fentanyl) Thoracic Epidural


You can join if…

Open to people ages 13 years and up

  • scheduled for Nuss procedure for pectus excavatum correction
  • at least 13 years old at the time of the procedure

You CAN'T join if...

  • age less than 13 years at time of procedure
  • use of pain medication prior to procedure
  • pectus carinatum, Poland's syndrome, or any chest wall anomaly other than pectus excavatum
  • previous repair of pectus excavatum by any technique
  • previous thoracic surgery
  • congenital heart disease
  • bleeding dyscrasia
  • major anesthetic risk factors or history of previous problem with anesthesia
  • pregnancy
  • inability to communicate in English


  • UCSF-Benioff Children's Hospital accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94158 United States

Lead Scientists

  • Benjamin Padilla
    Assistant Professor, Surgery. Authored (or co-authored) 24 research publications
  • Sunghoon Kim
    Dr Sunghoon Kim is a Pediatric Surgeon at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland. His interests within the field of Pediatric Surgery includes repair of chest wall malformations such as pectus excavatum and carinatum. His other interests include surgical treatment of palmar hyperhidrosis.


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
Michael Harrison
Phase 4
Study Type
Last Updated