Conditions + Treatments

Pectus excavatum in Children

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Jay M. Wilson, MD, senior associate in Boston Children's Hospital's Department of Surgery

 Here’s what you should know about pectus excavatum (also known as "funnel chest"):

  • Pectus excavatum is a deformity of your child's chest wall where there's a depression in the breastbone.
  • It occurs in approximately 1 out of 500 children. It is four times more common in boys than girls, and can run in families.
  • A severe case may cause breathing problems, but a shallow excavatum is unlikely to cause any health problems.
  • While some children with pectus excavatum don’t need any treatment at all, more severe cases can be surgically repaired, allowing your child to lead a normal, active life.
  • Pectus excavatum is not a life-threatening condition, and most children grow up to lead normal and active lives.

How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches pectus excavatum

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.

Our surgeons prefer to operate on children with pectus excavatum, if they operate at all, during the child's teen years. By then, they're through most of their growth spurts so recurrence is far less likely.

Pectus excavatum: Reviewed by Jay Wilson, MD
© Boston Children’s Hospital; posted in 2012

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