Pectus excavatum is a congenital chest deformity that causes the breastbone to sink into the chest. With this condition, a dent forms at the center of the chest. The sunken breastbone is usually visible at birth. But as a child continues to develop, this condition grows worse, especially in adolescence.
Pectus excavatum is more common in boys compared to girls. In severe cases, it may affect the normal functioning of both the lungs and heart. Mild cases can also affect your self-esteem and self-image.
The causes are still unknown. However, this condition mostly runs in families, and some members can inherit it from their parents.
The pectus excavatum’s only symptom or sign may be the chest indentation. But in severe cases where the chest’s caving has affected the lungs and heart, one may highlight signs and symptoms such as:
Coughing or wheezing
Heart palpitations and repeated heartburn
Your doctor can diagnose whether you have pectus excavatum simply by running an examination on your chest. You may need to undergo various tests to check for heart and lung-associated problems. The tests you may undertake may include:
X-ray on the Chest
An X-ray is a painless short test that can check whether your heart has changed its position by moving to the right side of the chest.
This scan is popularly known as a CT scan. It creates cross-sectional images of the human body’s inner structure by using several X-rays from different angles. It also helps check whether the lungs or heart have gotten compressed. This scan can show the extent the pectus excavatum has developed.
The doctor conducts this test by attaching electrical leads to the patient’s body. This is to examine the heart’s rhythm and check whether the heart’s electrical signals are working accordingly.
An echocardiogram is the heart’s sonogram. It works by showing real-time images of how the heart and its valves are functioning. A wand pressed against a patient’s body transmits sound waves, which then produce an image.
Your doctor will conduct various tests to check how much air your lungs can contain and how quickly the air can escape the lungs.
This test will measure the functioning of both your lungs and heart while you exercise. You may undergo the tests while either running on a treadmill or riding a bicycle.
Can Doctors Fix This Condition?
Surgical repair and physiotherapy can correct pectus excavatum. Surgery is the best option for severe cases. If an individual showcases mild signs, physical therapy is ideal. Physiotherapy exercises can increase the chest’s expansion and improve one’s posture. Studies on more ways to fix this condition are underway. Doctors are working on studying the possibility of magnets or using suction to lift the decompressed breast bone.
For more on fixing pectus excavatum, contact Changes Plastic Surgery & Spa at our office in San Diego, California. You can call 858-264-3800 today to schedule an appointment.