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Pectus excavatum describes an abnormal formation of the rib cage that gives the chest a caved-in or sunken appearance.
Pectus excavatum is a congenital (present at birth) abnormality that can be mild or severe.
It is caused by too much growth of the connective tissue that joins the ribs to the breastbone. This causes the sternum to malform inward. The child typically has a depression in the center of the chest over the sternum, and this may appear quite deep.
If pectus excavatum is severe, it may affect the heart and lungs, making exercise difficult. Also, the appearance of the chest may cause psychological difficulty for the child.
Pectus excavatum may occur as the only abnormality, or together with other syndromes.
Tzelepis GE, McCool FD. The lungs and chest wall disease. In: Mason RJ, Murray JF, Broaddus VC, Nadel JA. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa; 2005:chap 83.
Sugarbaker DJ, Lukanich JM. Chest wall and pleura. In: Townsend CM Jr., Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 57.
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