Pectus Excavatum

Pectus excavatum, also known as sunken chest, is a congenital heart defect (present at birth) in which the rib cage grows inward, resulting in a noticeable and sometimes severe indentation of the chest wall. While the sunken breastbone is often noticeable shortly after birth, the severity of pectus excavatum typically worsens during the adolescent growth spurt. Pectus excavatum can be corrected with the minimally-invasive surgical technique called the Nuss procedure.

Causes of Pectus Excavatum

While the exact cause of pectus excavatum is unknown, it may be an inherited condition because it sometimes runs in families.

Symptoms of Pectus Excavatum

For many people with pectus excavatum, their only sign or symptom is a slight indentation in their chests. In some people, the depth of the indentation worsens in early adolescence and can continue to worsen into adulthood. In severe cases of pectus excavatum, the breastbone may compress the lungs and heart. Signs and symptoms may include:

Diagnosis of Pectus Excavatum

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:

Diagnostic tests and procedures

Treatment of Pectus Excavatum

People who have mild signs and symptoms may be helped by physical therapy. For those individuals with moderate to severe signs and symptoms, surgery may be required. If that’s the case:

Medical and Surgical procedures



Saint Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
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Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
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Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 557-8000
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Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
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Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
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Pectus excavatum Treatment & Care

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