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Health Information For Parents
Pectus carinatum is a genetic disorder of the chest wall. It makes the chest jut out. This happens because of an unusual growth of rib and breastbone (sternum)
The bulging gives the chest a birdlike appearance. That’s why the condition is sometimes called pigeon breast or pigeon chest.
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes pectus carinatum (PEK-tus kair-ih-NOT-um). In some cases, it runs in families.
Kids who have it often have another health condition, such as:
: a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 18th chromosome
A pushed-out chest is the chief sign of pectus carinatum. This usually doesn’t appear until a child is age 11 or older, even though the condition is present at birth.
The chest wall surrounds and protects the heart and lungs. So kids and teens with pectus carinatum may:
Some can develop asthma or get a lot of respiratory infections.
Pectus carinatum can affect one side of the chest more than the other. Sometimes, kids have pectus carinatum on one side of the chest, and a different chest wall disorder — pectus excavatum — on the other side. Pectus excavatum makes the chest look sunken.
The condition gets worse as kids grow, and affects boys more often than girls.
Health care providers diagnose pectus carinatum based on an exam and a child’s
. If needed, they might also order tests such as:
Kids and teens with mild pectus carinatum might not have breathing problems or worry about their appearance. If so, they don’t need treatment.
Kids whose bones are still growing can wear a chest brace. Much like how braces realign teeth, a chest brace will push the breastbone back to a normal position. Kids need to wear a brace for 6 months to a year. They can remove it for sports, showering, and other activities, but usually must wear it for 8 hours a day or longer.
In some cases, surgery can treat pectus carinatum. In the Ravitch procedure, a surgeon:
The surgeon removes the bar in a later surgery, usually after about 6 months. The Ravitch procedure is most often used for patients 13 to 22 years old.
Doctors also might recommend physical therapy and exercises to strengthen weak chest muscles.
Mild pectus carinatum won’t need treatment if doesn’t affect how the lungs or heart work. But when the condition is very noticeable or causes health problems, a person’s self-image can suffer. In those cases, treatment can improve a child’s physical and emotional well-being.
Most kids and teens who wear a brace or undergo surgery do very well and are happy with the results.
Pectus carinatum, sometimes called pigeon chest, is when the chest juts out. Sometimes it’s treated by wearing a brace.
The Ravitch procedure is a surgery to correct severe pectus carinatum and pectus excavatum.
Marfan syndrome affects the body’s connective tissue and can cause problems in the eyes, joints, and heart. Even though the disease has no cure, doctors can successfully treat just about all of its symptoms.
Pectus excavatum is a deformity of the chest wall that causes several ribs and the breastbone to grow abnormally, giving the chest a “caved-in” appearance.
Poland syndrome is a condition where a child is born with missing or underdeveloped chest muscles.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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