Pronounced: Pek-tis X-ka-vay-tumEn Español (Spanish Version)
Pectus excavatum is an abnormal inward curve to the breastbone. It may be visible at birth. Growth through adolescence can make the indentation of the chest more apparent. It may continue until it has created a bowl-shape dent in the center of the chest.
Severe forms can create extra pressure on the heart and lungs. This can lead to more serious health problems like shortness of breath and limited physical activities.
The exact cause of pectus excavatum is not known. Some theories include:
- Pressure in womb during pregnancy
- Excessive pulling on breastbone and rib cage from shortened tendons of diaphragm muscles
- Abnormalities in cartilage of the rib cage
- Genetic factors
The Rib Cage
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Pectus excavatum may also be caused by conditions that affect connective tissue or chest structure, such as:
Last reviewedJuly 2012by J. Thomas Megerian, MD, PhD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.