A to Z: Pectus Excavatum
Learn more about pectus excavatum, commonly called sunken chest.
May also be called: Funnel Chest; Sunken Chest
Pectus excavatum (PEK-tus eks-kuh-VAY-tum) is a deformity of the chest wall that causes several ribs and the breastbone (sternum) to grow abnormally, giving the chest a concave, or caved-in, appearance.
More to Know
The chest wall is made up of bones, as well as muscle and other tissue. It surrounds and protects the heart and lungs. The ribs and sternum usually go outward at the front of the chest. With pectus excavatum, the tissue, ribs, and sternum grows abnormally, causing the sternum to go inward to form a depression in the chest.
Pectus excavatum is a genetic disorder. Although kids are born with it, it may not be apparent for the first few years or sometimes even until the teenage years. Mild cases might be barely noticeable.
Severe cases can cause a deep hollow in the chest and could affect the heart and lungs. The visual appearance of pectus excavatum might cause self-esteem issues for some kids.
Keep in Mind
Pectus excavatum can be completely harmless if it's not affecting how the lungs or heart work. Surgery often can correct the condition and treat any heart or lung issues. Physical therapy and exercises to strengthen muscles are also helpful.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.