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Q&A: Caved chest

Wellness | August 10, 2017
My teenage son's chest looked normal in childhood, but now it seems to be caved in along the lower part. Should I be worried?

Pectus excavatum, sometimes referred to as funnel chest, is a congenital disorder that causes the chest to have a caved-in appearance. Historically, the condition was considered a mere cosmetic defect, but recent studies have determined that significant defects can cause heart and breathing difficulties.

Surgical repair is optional, and is typically done in the teen years to limit the risk of recurrence.

The old surgery for this condition included a horizontal incision across the chest, removal of abnormal cartilage and placement of a temporary metal chest strut or bar for support. A newer minimally invasive approach also uses a bar for support, but it is inserted through a small incision on each side of the chest using a tiny lighted camera as a guide.

This healthy living tip is courtesy of Kimberly Ruscher, MD, MPH.

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