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A Parent’s Guide to Pectus Carinatum

Did you know Pectus Carinatum (PC) affects one in every 1500 children, with males being four times more likely than females to experience it? 

Pectus carinatum 101 

When the chest wall develops, the cartilage that connects the ribs usually grows flat along the chest. In PC, the costal cartilage abnormally grows and causes unequal growth, creating an outward “bulge” of the chest wall. More often than not, the protruding chest is the only symptom and is aesthetic in nature. However, in more severe cases, these individuals may experience shortness of breath, asthma, recurring chest infections, tenderness, or pain. 

The types of pectus carinatum

There are two types of PC: chondrogladiolar prominence (CG) and chondromanubrial prominence (CM). Most cases are CG, where the middle and lower areas of the rib cage are affected. These ribs are longer and more flexible and therefore are “easier” to correct and reshape. CM PC affects the upper ribs and is usually symmetrical. This type is more difficult to treat because the ribs are shorter and less flexible in nature. 

Although PC develops early in childhood, the condition is often not diagnosed until puberty or the child undergoes a growth spurt. PC is diagnosed by a doctor using an x-ray of the chest. Sometimes doctors will also perform pulmonary tests or an echocardiogram to determine if the lung and heart function is affected.

Treating pectus carinatum

Once diagnosed, there are two methods of treatment: bracing or surgery. The gold standard treatment for a mild or moderate deformity is orthotic bracing. This brace can be either custom made for the child or can be custom fit depending on the presentation. The orthosis fits around the chest and applies a low-grade prolonged pressure to help reshape and correct the deformity. In general, it is recommended to wear the orthosis 20-22 hours a day, however, specific timelines are tailored to each individual’s needs. In more severe cases surgery is considered. The Ravitch procedure is a surgical operation that involves removing the abnormal cartilage and placing the breastbone in a normal position within the chest. 

If you think your child may have pectus carinatum or you have any questions or concerns please reach out to our office. 

The Team at Custom Orthotics of London
(519) 850-4721 | office@customorthoticsoflondon.com | @cool_bracing


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