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Pectus Excavatum vs Carinatum: Decoding Chest Deformities

Ever glanced at your reflection and noticed something unusual about the shape of your chest? Or maybe you’ve felt an odd discomfort while engaging in daily activities, like sports or even just breathing. You’re not alone! Countless people across the globe grapple with common chest wall deformities known as pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum. It’s a journey filled with questions, confusion, and often anxiety. Fortunately, Pinewood Family Care Co.’s Pediatric Surgeon, Dr. Yi-horng Lee, of Garden State Pediatric Surgery is here to help!

“What causes these conditions?” “How are they diagnosed?” “Can they be treated effectively?” If these queries have been haunting you lately, then take heart. This post promises to serve as your guiding light on this murky path.

We’re going to dig into how to spot symptoms early for better management. We’ll also try to understand their genetic ties, such as Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. And we won’t leave out the exploration of innovative techniques like minimally invasive procedures.

Table Of Contents:

Understanding Pectus Excavatum and Pectus Carinatum

Pectus excavatum, also known as funnel chest, is a condition where the chest sinks inward. On the flip side, pectus carinatum, often referred to as pigeon chest, is characterized by an outward bulge of the sternum or breastbone.

These conditions are two common types of chest wall deformities. They’re seen more frequently in boys than girls. Also interestingly enough, Caucasians seem to be more prone to these disorders.

The way families usually spot these issues varies. In some cases, they may notice them at birth while for others it might become evident during a growth spurt when rapid changes occur in their child’s body structure.

An important point worth noting here – having one person with either pectus excavatum or pectus carinatum in your family does increase chances that other members could develop it too. In fact, up to 40% patients have someone else affected within their close kinship.

Pectus Excavatum: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

The most common chest wall deformity is pectus excavatum. Also known as sunken or funnel chest, it’s often spotted during a growth spurt.

With this condition, the breast bone (or sternum) and rib cage grow abnormally. This results in a dent in the middle of the chest that can appear deep enough to hold a small bowl.

Genetic Syndromes Associated with Pectus Excavatum

A positive family history may hint at an underlying genetic link. Monogenic syndromes like Marfan syndrome, which affects connective tissue integrity, are associated with pectus excavatum.

Diagnostic Procedures for Pectus Excavatum

To diagnose this condition accurately requires more than just physical examination. Imaging techniques such as chest x-rays and CT scans give detailed insights into the severity of deformities within costal cartilage structure – providing vital information before deciding on treatment plans.

Treatment Options for Pectus Excavatum

Dealing with pectus excavatum? You’ve got options. One common route is the Nuss procedure, a minimally invasive surgery that can fix severe cases.

Evaluating the Severity of Pectus Excavatum

To decide on your treatment, you must ascertain the seriousness of your condition. Dr. Lee uses things like physical examination and CT scans to figure this out.

In mild situations, exercises or braces might be enough. But if it’s more serious, they could suggest surgical correction methods such as Nuss or Ravitch procedures.

The good news? No matter which path you take, studies show postoperative satisfaction relating to body image is high among patients with pectus deformities – so there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Understanding Pectus Carinatum: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Pectus carinatum, often referred to as ‘pigeon chest’, is a condition where the breast bone pushes outward. It usually becomes noticeable during a rapid growth spurt in early adolescence.

This chest wall deformity can be associated with certain genetic syndromes such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. A positive family history could also suggest an underlying cause.

Genetic Syndromes Associated with Pectus Carinatum

Monogenic syndromes like Ehlers-Danlos might lead to excessive growth of costal cartilage. This abnormal development gives the chest its distinctive shape.

Symptoms are not always physical. Many patients suffer from low self-esteem due to their appearance. In severe cases, pectus carinatum may affect pulmonary function leading to breathlessness or chest pain during exercise.

Physicians typically carry out a physical assessment, then use imaging tests such as chest x-rays or CT scans to get more info on the protrusion’s intensity.

Treatment Options for Pectus Carinatum

Living with pectus carinatum, also known as pigeon chest, can be challenging. Good news though, there are various viable treatments that can be taken advantage of.

Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatments

The Ravitch procedure, a surgical correction technique, has proven to be quite successful. However, non-surgical methods such as chest bracing have shown promising results too.

In some cases where excessive growth of costal cartilage causes severe cases of this deformity, thoracic surgery might become necessary. The choice between minimally invasive repair and traditional surgery usually depends on several factors including the patient’s age and severity of their condition.

Postoperative Satisfaction in Patients with Pectus Deformities

Many patients report high satisfaction levels post-surgery. It’s not just about improving physical appearance – it’s also about reducing symptoms like chest pain that often accompany these conditions.

This makes early detection crucial to allow timely intervention which ultimately leads to better outcomes and higher postoperative satisfaction rates among patients undergoing corrective procedures for their pectus deformities.

Comparing Pectus Excavatum and Pectus Carinatum

Impact on Daily Activities

A severe case of pectus excavatum may cause chest pain during strenuous exercise. On the other hand, patients with pectus carinatum might feel self-conscious about their appearance in athletic wear.

Psychological Impact of Chest Wall Deformities

The psychological impact of these deformities shouldn’t be underestimated. Many with chest deformities may suffer from body image issues, leading to a decrease in self-esteem and social withdrawal.

Importance of Early Detection and Treatment

Catching either condition early lets doctors start treatment sooner—this often leads to better outcomes for both physical health and emotional wellbeing. 

FAQs in Relation to Pectus Excavatum vs Carinatum

What does pectus carinatum look like?

Pectus carinatum, often dubbed ‘pigeon chest’, presents as a protrusion of the sternum and ribs. It’s noticeably more prominent in comparison to a normal chest.

Are people with pectus excavatum usually skinny?

No, being skinny isn’t tied to having pectus excavatum. This condition affects individuals regardless of body type or weight – it’s all about how your chest bone grows.

What happens if pectus excavatum is left untreated?

If not treated, some folks with severe cases may face heart and lung issues down the line due to pressure from the sunken sternum on these organs.

How do you fix pectus carinatum?

Surgery isn’t always necessary for fixing this issue. Non-surgical treatments include custom-made braces that help flatten out the bulging area over time by applying steady pressure.


Exploring the world of chest wall deformities, particularly pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum, can feel like navigating a labyrinth. But remember: knowledge is power.

Picking up on symptoms early makes all the difference. That’s why we stressed recognizing signs like a sunken or protruding chest.

We looked into how these indications may be related to genetic conditions like Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos disorder. Awareness here helps with quicker diagnosis.

Innovative treatments? We’ve got them covered too! From minimally invasive techniques to surgical corrections like Nuss procedure for pectus excavatum or Ravitch procedure for pectus carinatum – options are plentiful! Contact the Navigator at Pinewood Family Care Co. to visit with our partners at Garden State Pediatric Surgery today if you have concerns!

Above all, understand that living with “pectus excavatum vs carinatum” doesn’t mean giving up your passions or daily activities; it just means adapting and overcoming in your own unique way!