Introduction to Pectus Excavatum
Pectus excavatum is a common congenital chest deformity. It affect the central chest at the front and causes a caved-in appearance. This deformity can be present from birth or develop during puberty.
What is Pectus Excavatum?
Pectus excavatum is a common congenital chest deformity. It affect the central chest at the front and causes a caved-in appearance. This deformity can be present from birth or develop during puberty. In most cases, this deformity is cosmetic and does not cause any problems other than negative psychological effects. Rarely it can impair respiratory and cardiac function and/or cause pain. Pectus excavatum affect 1 in 150-1000 births and affects three times as many males.
What are the causes for Pectus Excavatum?
The cause of pectus excavatum is unknown but it may be down to a genetic defect. It isn’t uncommon to ‘run’ in families. Pectus excavatum can be part of Marfan’s syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (connective tissue disorders).
What are the symptoms of Pectus Excavatum?
Pectus excavatus rarely causes problems and is nearly always cosmetic. Serious cases can impair respiratory and cardiac function and cause pain. Patients are often conscious of the deformity and make efforts to avoid activities that may expose the deformity (e.g. swimming).
How is Pectus Excavatum treated?
When there is severe psychological impact due to the cosmetic nature of pectus excavatum, or where there is impairment of normal function or pain, procedures can be performed to correct the deformity. There are non-invasive and invasive procedures. Various test are performed beforehand to measure the severity and extent of the deformity. Plastic surgery can involve insertion of implants to fill the sunken area or lipofilling can be performed, which involves filling the hollow area which fat cells that have been harvested from other areas of the body. Thoracic surgery is another option to correct the deformity and there are various procedures available.