Doctors at Mayo Clinic prefer to treat pectus carinatum in children and adolescents with a customized pressure brace whenever possible.
A customized brace applies continuous pressure to the chest wall to gradually reduce the deformity. You would typically wear a brace under your shirt for 16 to 18 hours a day. The brace:
- Has two padded compression plates in the front and back of the chest, anchored by aluminum bars
- Is held in place by adjustable straps
- Has straps that are gradually adjusted as you grow to apply different levels of pressure to your chest
Most children require bracing for three to six months; however, some may require the treatment for several years. There are no restrictions on activities while wearing the brace. You initially will have follow-up visits with your doctor every two to six months to monitor the treatment.
If the condition is not addressed until late teen years or adulthood, surgery will usually be required to correct the problem, since the chest cartilage is much less flexible at that point. This is a major surgery requiring up to a week's hospital stay, with follow-up appointments for a year. The surgeon will:
- Open your chest wall and remove the sternum
- Reshape your ribs so that they don't protrude outward
- Flatten the sternum and replace it
Mayo anesthesiologists and pediatric surgeons use the latest methods of postoperative pain control that include delivering medications through a tube near the nerves of the chest (infusion catheter), to help speed recovery.
You will have restrictions on activities after surgery, some for up to six months.
Nov. 19, 2012