Pectus Excavatum – Everything You Need to Know About Bowed Chest

Health & Fitness

Pectus Excavatum is a condition where the children have their chest caved in. It develops due to a disorder that links the bony portion of the ribs with the breastbone in the rough fibrous tissue also called cartilage. The breastbone or sternum forces the cartilage to move inward. This condition is also called bowed chest or funnel chest.

Babies are sensitive and parents get really worried if anything happens to them. My sister was noticing that her daughter’s chest was sunken in. Initially we all thought it was nothing to worry about but when I saw my niece a few days ago I became really worried because it was really visible. I booked an appointment the best pediatric surgeon in Islamabad I could find took her for the check up. My niece was diagnosed with Pectus Excavatum.

I asked the doctor to tell me more about its symptoms, causes, effects, and treatment. And this is what I learned:

Symptoms of Pectus Excavatum

The symptoms usually start to show up during pre-teens and worsen during teens especially during the time a child hits puberty. Besides having a bowed chest, there are little to no symptoms. Some of them include shortness of breath while playing, difficulty in doing excessive physical work, and body image issues.

Diagnosis of Pectus Excavatum

After a thorough check up doctor might ask for some tests for lungs and heart in order to make the final call. These tests might include lung function test to investigate breathing patterns, CT scans, and sometimes an ultrasound of the heart.

Treatment for Pectus Excavatum

Often youngsters with pectus excavatum, without medication, have normal, productive childhoods and completely stable lives. Kids can avoid playing games and other activities that require running or endurance in more serious cases. Any kids without signs seek medication to help them make their body feel better. There have never been any medications or physiotherapy seen to strengthen pectus excavatum. Surgery is the only alternative at this point that helps.

Doctors most often use the Nuss procedure which is a process of putting a bar within the chest to lift up on the contoured breastbone for kids that need surgery. There is another surgery however, called Ravitch repair technique and is used in some situations.

Nuss Procedure

It is a 2 hour long process in which a long stainless-steel bar is inserted and then bent to achieve the desired shape of the chest. It is placed in front of the heart and under the breastbone. The goal is to push the breastbone forward in order to bend the cartilage holding the breastbone and the ribs.

The expected healing time is around 3 months and it takes around 2 years for the bar to maintain the desired shape.

Ravitch Repair

This process takes about four to six hours in which the doctor realigns the breastbone by removing the abnormal cartilage. Also, a short steel bar is placed behind the breastbone to keep it in place


Pectus Excavatum is not a life-threatening disease but deforms the breastbone usually found in the teens and preteens. A major symptom is a bowed or caved chest. The only way to treat it is by surgery. You should consult a doctor as soon as you see symptoms for a proper diagnosis.

Meta Description: Pectus Excavatum is also called bowed chest or funnel chest. It is not life threatening and is found in teens and preteens. Nuss repair or Ravitch repair is a surgical treatment for the disease.


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