Treatments for Pectus Carinatum in Children

At Boston Children's Hospital, our physicians are focused on family-centered care. From your first visit, you'll work with a team of professionals to create a care plan that's best for your child. 

How is pectus carinatum treated?

Bracing can treat mild-to-moderate cases of the condition successfully if your child's chest is still flexible. Once the chest bones are completely formed, bracing becomes much less effective. In this case — or if your child cannot or does not want to follow the rigorous bracing schedule — your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to correct his pectus carinatum. 

What should we expect with the bracing treatment?

If your child's condition warrant bracing, he will see a specialist in the Boston Children's Brace Shop who will construct the brace. 

The brace applies pressure to the protruding breastbone and cartilage. This gradually reshaped the chest wall.

  • A brace is made specifically for your child based on your child's measurements and the shape of the protrusion. It may need to be adjusted periodically as your child grows. 

Your child will need to wear the brace when he is at home and when sleeping at night. The process of correction will often take about a year. It's important to remember that how quickly the process occurs is directly related to how long and how consistently your child wears the brace.The most important factor in the successful treatment of pectus carinatum is your child's desire to get rid of the protrusion and improve the appearance of his chest. 

What happens if our doctor recommends surgery or the bracing fails to correct his condition?

Pectus carinatum can be surgically repaired in an operation called the Ravitch. In this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in your child's chest wall, removes the cartilage wedged between the ribs and sternum, then reshapes and repositions the freed-up sternum.

A bar is left in the chest wall to maintain the correct shape for six months, during which time your child has to refrain from activities that might involve a collision, like football.

Coping and support 

There are a lot of resources available to assist you and your child with the diagnosis of pectus carinatum—within Boston Children's, in the outside community and online. 

Patient education: From the very first visit, our staff will be on hand to walk you through your child's treatment and help answer any questions you may have. They'll also reach out to you by phone, continuing the care and support you received while at Boston Children's. 

Parent to parent: Want to talk with someone else whose child has been through the bracing procedure or surgery? We can put you in touch with other families who can share their stories. 

Social work and mental health professionals: Our social workers and mental health clinicians have helped many other families in your situation. We can offer counseling and assistance with issues such as coping with your child's diagnosis and dealing with financial difficulties. 

On our For Patients and Families site, you can read all you need to know about: