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Pectus Excavatum

The lungs, heart and other organs within the chest cavity need adequate space to function properly. Structural defects to the chest wall and rib cage can limit the function of these organs. Pectus excavatum, also known as “funnel chest,” ranks among the most common chest wall deformities. A congenital condition most often occurring in boys, it results in a sunken breastbone (sternum) and a concave-shaped chest wall.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Pectus Excavatum

Usually an abnormal indentation in the chest is the first indication of pectus excavatum. In childhood, this condition may not cause any problems, but as an individual matures into adolescence and young adulthood, this structural abnormality may begin to literally press on the lungs and heart. Symptoms may include:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations
  • fatigue
  • difficulties engaging in physical activity

Usually a physical examination is enough to diagnose pectus excavatum. Diagnostic testing, though, may be required to determine how the condition is affecting your heart and lungs. These tests may include:

  • Chest X-ray
  • CT Scan
  • EKG
  • Echocardiogram
  • Lung Function Test
  • Exercise Stress Test

Surgical Treatment Options for Pectus Excavatum

Moderate to severe cases of pectus excavatum often require surgical repair and chest wall reconstruction to reshape the chest wall. Surgically lifting the breastbone using manmade support structures can help to reduce the degree of chest depression and create more space for the heart and lungs to properly function. At NorthShore, our thoracic specialists have extensive experience remodeling the chest wall and rib cage, using state-of-the-art prosthetic materials, including artificial bone and titanium rib plating. The skill and training of our surgeons ensure optimal function as well as aesthetically-pleasing results.

For More Information

To schedule an appointment with one of our thoracic surgeons, please call 847.570.2868.