Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Pectus excavatum can usually be diagnosed simply by examining the chest. But your doctor may suggest several different types of tests to check for associated problems with the heart and lungs. These tests may include:

  • Chest X-ray. This test can visualize the dip in the breastbone and often shows the heart being displaced into the left side of the chest. X-rays are painless and take only a few minutes to complete.
  • Computerized tomography (CT). A CT scan may be used to help determine the severity of the pectus excavatum and whether the heart or lungs are being compressed. CT scans take many X-rays from a variety of angles to produce cross-sectional images of the body's internal structure.
  • Electrocardiogram. An electrocardiogram can show whether the heart's rhythm is normal or irregular, and if the electrical signals that control the heartbeat are timed properly. This test is painless and involves the placement of more than a dozen electrical leads, which are attached to the body with a sticky adhesive.
  • Echocardiogram. An echocardiogram is a sonogram of the heart. It can show real-time images of how well the heart and its valves are working. The images are produced by transmitting sound waves via a wand pressed against the chest.
  • Lung function tests. These types of tests measure the amount of air your lungs can hold and how quickly you can empty your lungs.
  • Exercise test. This test monitors how well your heart and lungs function while you exercise, usually on a treadmill.
Apr. 26, 2014

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