Overview of Pectus Excavatum
Pectus excavatum is the congenital (from birth) depression of the chest wall. This condition is caused by overgrowth of the cartilage between the ribs and the sternum (breastbone), which pushes the sternum inward. The heart is compressed and often shifted into the left side of the chest. Individuals may have limitation of physical activity, including shortness of breath, chest pain, inability to keep up with peers, and fatigue.
The diagnosis is made by physical examination and chest imaging. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most effective at demonstrating the degree of heart compression as well as the chest wall deformity.
Pectus excavatum means the chest wall is depressed or turned inward. This is a congenital condition (from birth).
Treatments for Pectus Excavatum
Your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you. In general, surgery is recommended for relief of symptoms and improvement of chest wall shape. For older adolescents and adults, correction by sternal eversion produces excellent long-term relief of symptoms and preservation of chest wall shape. In this operation, the sternum is turned over and repositioned, cardiac compression is relieved and the chest wall is re-formed. After healing, exercise tolerance is increased and the shape of the chest is much improved.
Services and Programs
Services and programs at Intermountain Heart Institute for patients with pectus excavatum: