What is pectus excavatum?
If your child develops a sunken chest — referred to as pectus excavatum — chances are that another family member has had the congenital condition too. While pectus excavatum causes are unknown, the condition tends to run in families; 25 percent of patients discover a family history of others with “funnel chest” (also known as caved-in chest).
The surgical experts at Children’s Mercy are recognized leaders in repairing pectus excavatum. Our surgery success rate is 99 percent.
The condition is the most common deformity in children’s chest walls and can become visible (the only actual pectus excavatum symptoms) anytime from infancy through puberty. It occurs when several ribs and the sternum (breastbone) don’t grow normally, causing the sternum to be pressed inward and resulting in a depression that is visible when looking at your child’s chest. The depression can range in size and depth, being deeper on one side, causing the breastbone to be curved and, in severe cases, pushing the sternum to nearly touch the spine.
Most kids aren't bothered by having a concave chest until they begin their growth spurt. At that point, severe cases of pectus excavatum deformity may require minimally invasive surgery. Mild pectus excavatum often can be improved with exercises to increase upper-body strength and improve posture.