Pectus excavatum (PEK-tus eks-kuh-VAY-tum) is a deformity of the chest wall that
causes several ribs and the breastbone (sternum) to grow abnormally, giving the chest
a concave, or caved-in, appearance.
More to Know
The chest wall is made up of bones,
as well as muscle and other tissue. It surrounds and protects the heart
and lungs. The ribs and sternum
usually go outward at the front of the chest. With pectus excavatum, the tissue, ribs,
and sternum grows abnormally, causing the sternum to go inward to form a depression
in the chest.
Pectus excavatum is a genetic
disorder. Although kids are born with it, it may not be apparent for the first few
years or sometimes even until the teenage years. Mild cases might be barely noticeable.
Severe cases can cause a deep hollow in the chest and could affect the heart and
lungs. The visual appearance of pectus excavatum might cause self-esteem
issues for some kids.
Keep in Mind
Pectus excavatum can be completely harmless if it's not affecting how the
lungs or heart work. Surgery often can correct the condition and treat any heart or
lung issues. Physical
therapy and exercises to strengthen muscles are also helpful.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical