Pectus Excavatum | Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of pectus excavatum?

The symptoms of pectus excavatum depend on when the condition is diagnosed.

In infancy, symptoms of pectus excavatum can include:

  • a hollow depression in the chest that may be broad and shallow, deep and narrow, or irregular
  • more rapid breathing than normal

In older children, symptoms of pectus excavatum can include:

  • shortness of breath upon exertion or exercise
  • chest pain
  • a lateral curvature of the spine, absence of the curve of the upper back, hooked shoulders and a broad thin chest

What causes pectus excavatum?

There is no known cause for pectus excavatum. Some studies investigating a genetic component are underway. Although the majority of cases don't involve a family history, there are many that do — enough to warrant suspicion that genes may play a significant role.

If your child does develop scoliosis, the Spinal Program at Boston Children’s Hospital is one of the nation’s foremost pediatric treatment and research centers.