The vacuum bell is a medical device used to treat pectus excavatum, a relatively common chest wall deformity in which the sternum (breastbone) is pushed inwards due to excessive growth of the cartilage connecting the ribs and the sternum, giving the chest a sunken appearance. The device was first designed by a German engineer named Eckart Klobe, who sells the device throughout Europe. Another version of the bell is also available within the United States and is manufactured and distributed by Costa.
The bell is placed centrally over the chest wall, creating a seal. The hand pump, which is connected to the bell by a plastic tube, is then used to reduce the pressure within the bell to a maximum of 15% below atmospheric pressure. This decrease in pressure causes the sternum to be pulled outwards, giving a temporary resolution of the deformity. Repeated use is required to acheive a lasting result.
Individuals who suffer from any of the medical conditions listed below are advised to avoid using the vacuum bell;
- Blood coagulation disorders (e.g. Hemophilia).
- Disorders affecting bone firmness (e.g. Osteogenesis imperfecta, Osteoporosis).