Selective versus routine patch metal allergy testing to select bar material for the Nuss procedure in 932 patients over 10years

Published:December 06, 2017DOI:


      Aim of the study

      The aim of the study was to determine the role of patch metal allergy testing to select bar material for the Nuss procedure.


      An IRB-approved (11–04-WC-0098) single institution retrospective, cohort study comparing selective versus routine patch metal allergy testing to select stainless steel or titanium bars for Nuss repair was performed. In Cohort A (9/2004–1/2011), selective patch testing was performed based on clinical risk factors. In Cohort B (2/2011–9/2014), all patients were patch tested. The cohorts were compared for incidence of bar allergy and resultant premature bar loss. Risk factors for stainless steel allergy or positive patch test were evaluated.

      Main results

      Cohort A had 628 patients with 63 (10.0%) selected for patch testing, while all 304 patients in Cohort B were tested. Over 10 years, 15 (1.8%) of the 842 stainless steel Nuss repairs resulted in a bar allergy, and 5 had a negative preoperative patch test. The incidence of stainless steel bar allergy (1.8% vs 1.7%, p = 0.57) and resultant bar loss (0.5% vs 1.3%, p = 0.23) was not statistically different between cohorts. An allergic reaction to a stainless steel bar or a positive patch test was more common in females (OR = 2.3, p < 0.001) and patients with a personal (OR = 24.8, p < 0.001) or family history (OR = 3.1, p < 0.001) of metal sensitivity.


      Stainless steel bar allergies occur at a low incidence with either routine or selective patch metal allergy testing. If selective testing is performed, it is advisable in females and patients with a personal or family history of metal sensitivity. A negative preoperative patch metal allergy test does not preclude the possibility of a postoperative stainless steel bar allergy.

      Level of evidence

      Level III Treatment Study and Study of Diagnostic Test.

      Key words

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