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Chest Wall Deformities 

Chest wall deformities are when the bone of the chest, or breastplate, does not form in the usual manner.

A misshapen chest wall, or breastplate, can lead to compression of the heart and cardiovascular system. This can put undue stress on a child especially during physical activity.


Types of chest wall deformities

The two most common types of chest wall deformities are:

Pectus excavatum – known as “sunken chest” or “funnel chest” 

  • When the bone caves into the chest forming a depression or cup-like structure
  • Occurs in 1 out of 500 children

Pectus carinatum – known as "pigeon chest"

  • When the bone pushes outward forming a mound-like structure
  • Occurs in 1 out of 1,500 children and occurs mostly in boys
  • Can cause scoliosis (curvature of the spine) – children should be tested for scoliosis annually


For the concave or “sunken” chest (pectus excavatum) the Nuss Procedure is very common treatment.

For the convex or “pigeon” chest (pectus carinatum) a brace is fitted and worn on the outside of the body and adjusted over a period of time to help form the chest bone.

Age for treatment

While chest wall deformities show up at early ages, the best time to treat them is at 10 years of age and older. The older the child the better their bone structure will hold the changes made. If a child is too young, whatever changes were made during treatment can reverse during growth spurts.

Clinic appointments

All testing and clinic visits for treatment (other than surgery) will occur in the Dallas Heart Center. Clinic visits are being scheduled now, for the first Wednesday of each month.

To make an appointment for the Chest Wall Deformity Clinic, please call the dedicated scheduling line at 314-678-5499 or toll-free at 855-678-5499.

Team approach

Treating chest wall deformities is a team effort. The Cardiothoracic Surgery and Pediatric Surgery departments work together with Orthopaedics to map the best care plan possible for your child.

Read more about the chest wall deformity Team:

Pediatric Surgery

Dennis Vane, MD, MBA, FACS, FAAP - Surgeon in Chief

Cardiothoracic Surgery

Charles Huddleston, MD


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