Pectus Carinatum

Chest Wall Deformities

Pectus Carinatum is a chest deformity also known as pigeon chest. The characteristics of this situation are easily noticed since the ribs and the sternum stick out from the body. An overgrowth of cartilage that attaches the ribs to the breastbone causes buckling of the chest, which applies pressure and causes pain. This condition is rare and only affects around 1 in 400 people. Its is diagnosed more often in males than females. With the chest pressed forward, the lungs are locked into a position of near full inspiration. This means that the muscles in the chest cannot work properly and causes breathing issues, especially during exercise.

There are a few different ways that this condition can develop. It occurs most often in teenage boys as they go through puberty. The growth spurt causes the increase in cartilage and the chest begins to push forward. Just as a teenager can grow so quickly it seems to have happened while you blinked, pigeon chest can pop up just as fast. Another cause is simply birth. Most newborns are born with round chests and as they age, it is possible for the chest to simply begin to grow outward. The final cause develops after heart surgery. As the body heals itself from the procedure, additional cartilage is produced. Genetic disorders can also cause this condition, with around 25% of patients reporting family members that were also diagnosed.

Symptoms of the predicament include improperly functioning heart and lungs. In most cases, these organs develop properly, but cannot execute in the right manner. Shortness of breath is commonly reported in persons with pigeon chest and it is known that children with this syndrome are more easily tired. In most cases the condition is symmetric and affects both sides of the body. It is possible for some to only be affected on one side of the body and only happens if the extra cartilage forms abnormally.

Pectus carinatum treatment options include both surgical and non-surgical procedures. Some persons will not require any treatment while for others, pectus carinatum surgery is the only option for relief. Back braces are the most common pectus carinatum treatment and works in time to heal the bone and cartilage while keeping it in place. The time that the brace is worn depends on the severity of the problem. The brace is adjusted as needed by the physician in order to ensure that it is functioning properly and reversing the damage. Pectus carinatum surgery is performed to move the breastbone when a brace will not fix the issue. Anesthesia is given and an incision is made in the chest through which cartilage is removed. After the breastbone is cut so that it can lay flat the cartilage membranes are sewn into place so that cartilage can grow properly. Limitations should be followed to help heal from the pectus carinatum procedure.