Heart experts on Teesside are hoping to make sunken chest wall surgery available to more patients on the NHS after securing £1.9million to run a national clinical trial.
The James Cook University Hospital is one of only two hospitals in the country to offer pectus excavatum (funnel chest) surgery on the NHS, but it is currently only available to patients with very severe physiological symptoms.
More than 200 patients from across the country are expected to take part in the trial, led from South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Trials will be taking place at the Middlesbrough hospital’s new cardiovascular clinical research facility, and other centres in the UK, recruiting patients over the next two to three years – and for some the results could be life changing.
“Although we have the pathway for very severe patients, lots of patients still can’t have access to NHS care,” said consultant cardiothoracic surgeon Professor Enoch Akowuah.
The trial will work out if it is clinically effective and if it’s cost effective for the NHS. If these two things are proven to be true, the NHS could reopen pectus surgery for everybody – it’s a huge responsibility.
“This is a fantastic opportunity which brings together our clinical excellence, research excellence and our new cardiovascular clinical research facility at James Cook and it could really make a difference to patients.”
Pectus excavatum is a condition where the front of the chest is sunken. This is caused by abnormally shaped ribs.
In mild cases problems can be purely cosmetic, but in more severe cases it can impact on heart and lung function causing symptoms such as breathlessness.
Consultant cardiothoracic surgeon Joel Dunning added: “We are delighted to be the pectus centre for the north and to have been selected as the site to lead this national £2million trial.
“It means we will be able to help improve the lives of so many people.”
Professor Caroline Wroe, clinical director for NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria added:
We are delighted that this research is coming to our region and that we are able to support it.
“It is an excellent achievement for the cardiology research team to be selected to lead the trial and this demonstrates the team’s exceptional work and dedication.”
For more details visit the trust’s chest wall service page.