Pectus Carinatum, which is referred to as "pigeon chest," is one of the most common chest wall deformities. The outward appearance is caused by overgrowth of costal cartilage causing the sternum (breastbone) and ribs to protrude forward, or because the sternum itself is angled outward along the midline. It can also be seen after a child has undergone open heart surgery.
This condition seems to appear more often in boys and it usually develops later for them than it does for young girls. The severity of this abnormality generally worsens during growth spurts in late childhood and adolescence. The deformity may be very minor in early childhood and may suddenly become severe during puberty and adolescence.
Causes & Symptoms:
What Causes Pectus Carinatum?
The cause is unknown, however, it may be genetically linked considering it recurs in families. Pectus Carinatum also tends to occur with growth disturbance diseases such as Marfan syndrome and Ehler-Danlos syndrome. The deformity of the sternum is caused by the abnormal growth of the ribs and breast bone cartilage.
Are There Any Symptoms Associated With Pectus Carinatum?
There are very few symptoms associated with the deformity, but in some cases children will experience tenderness and pain during exercises or other times of increased respiratory effort. It does not affect heart development/cardiac function. Some other conditions that have been seen in children with Pectus Carinatum include scoliosis, mitral valve prolapse and connective tissue disorders. Pectus Carinatum may lead to major psychosocial problems (ie body image perception) in many children.
How Do You Treat Pectus Carinatum?
There are two forms of treatment of Pectus Carinatum: surgery or external bracing. In severe cases, surgery is used to restore normal chest contour. In mild to moderate cases, a custom designed external brace that applies direct pressure to the area of sternal protrusion can correct the condition, however, compliance is key.
How Do I Decide Which Method, Surgical vs. Non-Surgical, Is Best For My Child?
It all begins with an evaluation by your child's physician, who then will refer you to a surgeon with signiâcant expertise in the management of congenital chest wall malformations. Your surgeon will evaluate your child and discuss the treatment options of the Pectus Carinatum. Together you will decide which treatment option is best suited for you and your child. If the patient is a good candidate for a brace, we will refer you to an orthotist (bracing expert).
How to set up your evaluation
If you have further questions, we would love to see you in our offices. We are conveniently located in four different locations throughout South Carolina and see patients in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, and Beaufort.
We take great pride in the care that we provide our patients and have a long track record of quality and safety in patient care. We are the only Childrens Hospital in South Carolina to Participate in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program and our outcomes are some of the best in the nation.
You can contact us at 843-792-3853 to talk to a live person.