Pectus Excavatum

What is pectus excavatum?

Pectus excavatum is an abnormal development of the rib cage in which the sternum grows inward, which causes a sunken chest wall. Sometimes called "funnel chest," pectus excavatum is often present at birth (congenital) and can be mild or severe. Pectus excavatum rarely causes functional problems with the heart and breathing. In most cases it is a body image problem. It may occur in early childhood but becomes more apparent during the adolescent growth spurt. Adolescent males are affected more often than females.

What causes pectus excavatum?

The cause of pectus excavatum is not well understood. Researchers believe it is caused by irregular growth of the cartilage part of ribs that join the sternum which causes the sternum to cave inward.

How is pectus excavatum treated?

See Dr Bellemore for an initial consultation. If pectus excavatum is causing serious concerns related to body image or functional problems related to heart or respiratory function then treatment may be considered. Bracing is not effective for this deformity. Pectus excavatum can be corrected with surgery. If surgery is being considered Dr Bellemore will refer you to see a thoracic surgeon for further assessment and treatment.

The Nuss Procedure: a minimally invasive technique to correct pectus excavatum is the procedure most commonly performed. The outlook for patients who have repair of pectus excavatum is generally very good. Patients are usually very satisfied with their appearance, and many notice improved exercise tolerance and stamina.

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