Pectus Carinatum

What is pectus carinatum?

Pectus carinatum is a deformity of your child's chest wall in which it is pushed outward. The condition occurrs in about 1 out of 1,500 children and more frequently in boys. It’s often asymmetrical, with one side of the chest affected more than the other. In addition, some children have pectus carinatum on one side of the chest and an indentation called pectus excavatum on the other side of the chest.

Pectus carinatum often worsens as a child grows, particularly when the child reaches puberty. Approximately 15 percent of children with pectus carinatum end up developing scoliosis.

There are two basic types of pectus carinatum:

  • chondrogladiolar prominence (also known as “chicken breast”): Nearly 95 percent of people who have pectus carinatum have this type. 
  • chondromanubrial prominence (also known as “Pouter pigeon breast”): This rare type of pectus carinatum can be more complex to treat.

How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches pectus carinatum

For mild cases of pectus carinatum, there’s really no reason to do anything to try to fix it.

If your child’s condition is a bit more severe, we often treat him with a customized brace that gradually reshapes the chest. In rare cases, your child’s doctor may recommend surgery. Boston Children’s General Surgery Program evaluates and treats infants, children and young adults using state-of-the-art operative methods to improve the quality of life for each child entrusted to our care.