Severe cases of pectus excavatum can compress the lungs and push the heart over to one side. Even mild cases of pectus excavatum can result in self-image problems.
Heart and lung problems
If the depth of the breastbone indentation is severe, it may reduce the amount of room the lungs have to expand. This compression can also squeeze the heart, pushing it into the left side of the chest and reducing its ability to pump efficiently.
Children who have pectus excavatum also tend to have a hunched-forward posture, with flared ribs and shoulder blades. Many are so self-conscious about their appearance that they avoid activities, such as swimming, where the indentation in their chests is more difficult to camouflage with clothing.
Apr. 26, 2014
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- Corain AG, et al. Pediatric Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier: 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 21; 2013.
- Jaroszewski DE, et al. Current management of pectus excavatum: A review and update of therapy and treatment recommendations. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2010;23:230.
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- Mayer OH. Pectus excavatum: Treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 21, 2013.
- Jaroszewski DE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 10, 2014.
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