Pectus excavatum is a common congenital defect of the chest cavity in which
the breastbone is sunken in, creating a cone-like shape. It may be diagnosed
after birth but can become severe during adolescence. Although treatment
is not always required, some children require surgery to deal with severe
symptoms. If your child has pectus excavatum, his or her
pediatric specialist will monitor the condition and determine when treatment is needed.
Who is at risk of developing pectus excavatum?
The cause of pectus excavatum is not known, but boys are more likely to
experience it than girls. Doctors suspect that it could be an inherited
condition, as it often occurs in families. Because the exact trigger for
the condition has not been identified, there are no clear factors that
create an increased risk of having a child with pectus excavatum, other
than having a family history of the condition.
What are the symptoms?
In some cases, the symptoms are very minor and can include a slight indentation
in the chest that may be noticeable after birth. During adolescence, when
a growth spurt happens, the indentation may become more dramatic. If the
breastbone is significantly sunken in, it can squeeze the heart and lungs
and cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest pain, heart murmurs,
and arrhythmias, as Sunrise Children’s Hospital pediatric surgeon
Dr. Nicholas Fiore
explains in this video.
How is it treated?
Our pediatric heart care program at Sunrise Children’s Hospital
is one of the largest in the western U.S., and we are the only hospital
in the region that is equipped to perform pediatric open heart surgery.
For more information about
pediatric heart care
, our NICU, and pediatric care in Las Vegas, call (702) 233-5437.
Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms. For mild cases, no
treatment may be needed or physical therapy may be used to alleviate mild
symptoms. In more severe cases, surgery to repair concave chest cavity
and situate the breastbone in a healthier position may be recommended.
Surgery is usually recommended during adolescence, but some people wait
until adulthood to undergo the procedure.