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Quick reference medical handouts used by Pediatric offices


The breast bone of my son has caved inward since he was a baby. As a teenager, he is now embarrassed by the deformity and will not take off his shirt. What can be done about this condition?
    
The medical name for your child’s condition is pectus excavatum ( “funnel chest”). It is a deformity of the sternum (breast bone) and the surrounding ribs, giving the chest a sunken or caved in appearance. The condition can be only a slight dent in the breastbone to a marked abnormality that appears quite deep. Pectus excavatum is the most common congenital chest wall abnormality and occurs in one of 130 live births.

Most children with pectus excavatum have only a mild deformity and experience no symptoms except the psychological problems that result from its cosmetic appearance. The adolescent with this condition may not want to take part in sporting activities, gym glass, swimming, or anytime the chest is visible for peers to see.

Those youngsters with severe deformities, however, can have significant problems with lung expansion and growth. In addition, severe indentations can push the heart to the left side of the chest, resulting in irregular heartbeats and other breathing problems.

Surgery is available to correct the deformity and if it is bothering your son, we would recommend discussing it with your pediatrician.

 

As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your child’s pediatrician. Please read our full disclaimer.

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