With this deformity, several ribs and the sternum (breast plate) grow abnormally, producing a caved-in or sunken appearance in the chest. The chest curves inward rather than outward.
In severe cases, the chest has a deep dent and appears scooped out.
Pectus excavatum, sometimes referred to as funnel chest:
Doctors don’t have a clear understanding about the causes of pectus excavatum.
The condition involves overgrowth of the rib cartilage at the junction with the breastbone — also called the costochondral region — and seems to have a hereditary component. About 40 percent of those with pectus excavatum have at least one family member with the defect.
Most cases of the birth defect do not have other conditions associated with them, but some disorders (scoliosis, rickets, and Marfan syndrome) include the sunken chest characteristic seen in pectus excavatum.
Contact the UPMC Esophageal and Lung Surgery Institute with questions or for more information.Or, call the Thoracic and Foregut Surgery Division at 412-647-7555.
Most people do not experience symptoms with pectus excavatum, causing some to consider it only a cosmetic deformity. Depending on severity, pectus excavatum can cause compression of the heart and lungs, impairing cardiac and respiratory functions.
Some symptoms of this congenital chest wall defect include:
A primary care doctor, along with a thoracic surgeon and pulmonology specialist, will conduct a complete physical and order a comprehensive panel of blood tests to confirm a diagnosis of pectus excavatum.
Depending on the severity of the defect and the results of the exams and blood work, the medical team may order a number of other tests, such as:
Adults and children with pectus excavatum have a number of treatment options available at the UPMC Esophageal and Lung Surgery Institute.
Those with the mildest cases of deformity can benefit from physical therapy aimed at improving posture and appearance of the chest, avoiding surgery. People experiencing symptoms, or those with moderate to severe deformity, may need surgery.
At UPMC, our team of thoracic surgeons uses the minimally invasive Nuss procedure to treat pectus excavatum.
UPMC thoracic surgeons typically employ this video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery procedure when correcting pectus excavatum on adolescent and adult patients.
Using this innovative, minimal access technique:
Each person receives a steel bar that fits his or her individual chest curve.
The bar remains inside the chest for at least two years and is not visible from the outside. When it's time, the doctor will remove the bar in an outpatient surgical procedure.
Surgeons typically use traditional surgery to correct pectus excavatum in adults whose symptoms have become severe, or whose deformity negatively impacts their desire to participate in social activities that may expose the chest area.
Compared to the Nuss procedure, open chest surgery comes at a greater risk and has a longer recovery time.
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org
For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.
UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.
Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.
For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com