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Pectus Carinatum: Bracing

What Is Pectus Carinatum?

Pectus carinatum is a condition in which the breastbone (sternum) of the chest juts out. This happens because several ribs and the breastbone grow abnormally. 

Health care providers sometimes suggest that kids who are still growing wear a brace to help correct pectus carinatum.

What Is a Pectus Carinatum Brace?

It's a lightweight brace that's custom-made for a child. It wraps around the chest and puts pressure on the front part of the chest that sticks out.

How Does a Pectus Carinatum Brace Work?

Similar to how braces realign teeth, a chest brace will push the breastbone back to a normal position. Your child's health care provider will see your child regularly and adjust the pressure of the brace so it can work but still be comfortable.

How Long Do Kids Need to Wear the Brace?

Most kids will wear a brace for 6 months to a year, though some will need one for longer. They usually can remove it for sports, showering, and other activities, but usually must wear it for 8 hours a day or longer.

Help your child wear the brace exactly as recommended by your health care provider. This will help your child get the best results from it.

Are There Any Problems With Wearing a Brace?

Usually, wearing the brace causes no problems. Occasionally, the skin under it can get a little red and irritated. This usually goes away on its own, but call your health care provider's office if:

  • The redness doesn't go away within 30 minutes after taking off the brace.
  • Your child develops blisters, sores, or a rash under the brace.

Is Bracing Painful?

Some kids can have mild discomfort after having the brace pressure adjusted. If your child is uncomfortable and your health care provider says it's OK, you can give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol® or a store brand) OR ibuprofen (such as Advil®, Motrin®, or a store brand) as directed.

What If My Child Won't Wear It?

Most kids do well with wearing their brace. The brace usually isn't noticeable under a shirt. But if your child struggles, try to be understanding. Work together to come up with solutions and incentives to get your child to wear the brace. And agree on the occasional "night off" for important events, like a dance or beach day.

Your care team is a resource — for you and your child. They are there to answer any questions and help you and your child get through the challenges of bracing and achieve the best result.

Date reviewed: November 2017
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