Pectus Carinatum Treatment

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital offers a wide range of surgical and non-surgical treatment options for both children and adults who suffer from pectus deformities including pectus carinatum and pectus excavatum. Our multidisciplinary team includes specialists in pediatric surgery, adult thoracic surgery, physical therapy and chest wall bracing. Using a team approach, we develop a treatment plan tailored to each patient’s needs.

What is pectus carinatum?

Pectus carinatum is a defect in which the sternum (referred to as the breastbone) is abnormally elevated. Pectus carinatum is sometimes referred to as “pigeon chest” or “bird chest,” and is more common in males than females. This problem may have been present since infancy but may first appear or worsen during adolescence.

What causes pectus carinatum?

The cause of pectus carinatum is not known. It has been proposed that abnormalities of the connective tissue or cartilage of the rib cage lead to abnormal growth of the chest wall.

Why should pectus carinatum be treated?

Some patients with pectus carinatum have no symptoms or have minimal symptoms such as tenderness at the site of the protrusion. Many patients seek treatment in order to correct the appearance of the chest.

How is pectus carinatum treated?

We offer two treatments for pectus carinatum: chest wall bracing and surgical correction. Chest wall bracing works by compressing and remolding the chest. A brace is fitted by an orthotist experienced in bracing chest and spine problems. The brace must be worn most of the day for several months to achieve the best results.

Most patients are comfortable wearing the brace. Many patients will see significant improvement within one year. In most cases, surgical correction is not needed. Because chest wall bracing is not the best option for some patients, we also offer the modified Ravitch procedure for correction of pectus carinatum.

During this procedure, abnormal cartilage is removed and the sternum is directed downward to correct the protrusion. A stabilizer bar may be inserted to aid in the correction. Patients requiring surgical correction of pectus carinatum typically are hospitalized for five to seven days. Patients are permitted to return to work or school two weeks following the procedure and may return to organized sports or gym six weeks following the procedure.

What long term care is needed?

The stabilizer bar is removed during an outpatient (same-day) procedure, usually one year later.

Why should I come to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital?

Our multidisciplinary team offers non-surgical and surgical options for correction of pectus carinatum. By offering treatment options, we can help you choose the option that is best for you or your child. During the initial visit, we will perform a medical evaluation and make initial recommendations about what additional testing may be needed or which treatment options may be best.

How can I contact the office to make an appointment?

To find out what treatment options may be best for you or your child, we would be happy to meet with you. To schedule a consultation, please call us at (732) 235-7821.

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