Pectus Excavatum

1 What is Pectus Excavatum?

Pectus excavatum is a medical condition for which a person’s breast borne sinks into one chest.

This occurs in severes cases. Pectus excavatum makes it looks like the centre of the chest has been scooped out leading to the formation of a deeper dent.

However, the sunken breastbone is also known to be shorter after birth, but the situations worsens during adolescent growth spurt.

This is also called funnel chest and is common in male that girls. Severe cases of pectus excevatum is also causedby an interference of the function of the heart and lungs.

Mild cases of pectus excavatum can also make the children to be feel self conscious on matters of their appearance.

This has been corrected using surgical procedures. 

2 Symptoms

Many of the victims suffering from pectus excavatum have an indentation in their chest as the only sign or symptom in their chest.

The depth of the indentation can be worse in early age of adolescence and can proceed to worse in adulthood.

In the severe cases, the breastbone can also compress the lungs and heart.

The major signs and symptoms may be:

3 Causes

Many of the causes of the pectus excavatum in unknown. This condition may be inherited and may be transferable in families.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Pectus excavatum will often be examined and diagnosed by the examination of the chest.

It is advisable that your or your child suffering from pectus excavatum may need to consult their family doctors.

You may also be referred to a orthopedic surgery. What do you do in such like a case when having an appointment with a doctor:

  • One needs a detailed description of the signs and symptoms.
  • History of the medical problems.
  • Family medical history.
  • Medications, dietary supplements that are consumed by the family.
  • Questions that you may want to ask the doctor.
  • The treatments that are available.
  • Expectations from the doctor.

The doctor may also ask several questions which one needs to be prepared

  • When did the signs and symptoms start?
  • Have they been worsened in the recent past?
  • Has anybody suffered from the same condition in the past?
  • when did these signs and symptoms begin?
  • Have they worsened recently?
  • Has anyone else in your family had a similar problem?

As a patient, try to listen while the doctor seeks to provide the best care for you.

Different type of tests can also be performed so that the associated conditions of the heart and the lungs can be determined.

This tests may include:

  • Chect x-rays: This is best for the visualization of the dip breastbone and will be able to display the heart being displaced to the left or right of the chest. X-rays are not associated with pain and will only take a few minutes to complete.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) may also be used. Often referred to as a CT scan. It may be used in the determination of the severity of the pectus excavatum and whether the heart or lungs have been compressed. A CT scan is just similar to many of the X-rays taken from different angles so as to produce cross sectional images of the body internal structures.
  • Electrocardiogram on the other hand determines whether the heart rhythm is normal or irregular. It also determines whether the electrical signals which control the heart beat are well timed. This test is painless and may involve the placing of several dozens of electrical leads to different parts of the body which are attached with the sticky adhesive. Similarly, echocardiogram works like a sonogram of the heart. It is powerful and can show real time images of the heart and how well the heart and its associated valves are coordinated. The images are produced by the transmission of the sound waves which travel via a wand that is pressed against the chest.

Tests may also include the lung function tests as a way of measuring the amount of air that get into your lung and how long they can hold and empty the lungs.

Exercise test can also be done to demonstrated how long the heart and lungs will be able to function while exercising on a treadmill

5 Treatment

Pectus excavatum treatment is often surgically and surgery can be used for people that have moderate to severe symptoms.

People that have mild signs and symptoms may be assisted by physical therapy. Exercise can also be used to improve the posture and increase the degree with which the chest can expand.

There are several types of surgeries, two most common types of surgeries include:

Larger incision, which involve the incision at the center of the chest and allows the surgeon to view the position of the breastbone directly. Any deformed cartilate that is attached on the ribs to the lower sections of the breastbones can be removed and fixed back to the normal position using a surgical hardware in the form of metal strut or mesh support.

The supports may be removed in six to 12 months time.

The other form of surgery is the smaller incisions:

This has minimal invasiveness and small incisions are required to be placed on each of the sides of the chests under each arm. Long handled tools and a narrow fiber optic camera can be inserted through the incisions. Thereafter, a curved metallic bar can be used to raise the breastbone to the normal position. More than one bar can be used. They can then be removed after two years. It has been noted that most of the people with surgically corrected pectus excavatum are happy with the change and their new look at the chest.

It offers best results when surgery is performed while still young around the growth spurt at puberty. They can also benefit from pectus excavatum repair.

6 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with pectus excavatum.

Many of the adolescents just want to look fit and string like their peers.

This may not be the case for young adolescents with pectus excavatum.

As a result, many require counseling to as to develop the coping skills.

In addition, online support groups are available which allow for sharing of the knowledge and experiences and which help in the solving of the problems. 

7 Risks and Complications

The risks and complicatoons that come with Pectus excavatum are common among boys than in girls.

It is known that very severe cases of this condition compress the lungs and may push the heart to one side.

Mild cases of pectus excavatim can also lead to self image problems, heart and lung problems. When the depth of the breastbone indendation is severe, it may reduce the amount of room for the lungs to expand.

This compression can also compress the heart and push it to the left side of the chest. Consequently, this may reduce the ability of the heart as a pump to work effectively.

In children, they also have a hunched forward posture and comes with flared ribs and shoulder blades.

Many people suffer from the consciousness of their appearance and always remain secluded from activities such as sporting i.e swimming.

This is because the indentation in the chest may be difficult to high within the clothing as a way of camouflaging.