Chest wall deformities


Structural abnormalities in the chest, usually present at birth

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What are chest deformities?

Chest wall deformities are a structural abnormalities in the chest. They're normally present at birth but can develop later in childhood.

There are two main types:

  • Pectus excavatum (funnel chest)
  • Pectus carinatum (pigeon chest)

Need to know

  • Funnel chest is when the middle of the chest looks 'caved in', a result of the breastbone being sunken.
  • Pigeon chest is when the middle of the chest appears pushed out.

Most children won't experience any symptoms while their heart and lungs develop. However, some may find it difficult to breathe out completely during their teenage years. The may also feel self-conscious about the physical appearance of their chest and rib cage.

Chest wall deformities are often picked up on straight after birth. So your GP or consultant may recommend a breathing test for your baby to find out if the deformity is likely to affect their breathing.

In adolescence, chest wall deformities are quite noticeable and can often be diagnosed during a physical examination.
Unless your child is experiencing physical or psychological problems as a result of their chest wall deformity, treatment may not be necessary.

If their condition is affecting their breathing or causing severe psychological problems, your GP or consultant may recommend surgery. They will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you might have.

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.