Pectus carinatum, sometimes called “pigeon chest,” is a protrusion deformity of the chest wall that causes portions of the ribs and breastbone to push forward. Pigeon chest tends to occur in Caucasian and Hispanic males and is less common than pectus excavatum or “sunken chest”. Although these deformities are seen in infancy and childhood, chest wall disorders usually become more evident during times of rapid growth, such as puberty.

Possible Symptoms

  • protruding breastbone
  • problems tolerating exercise
  • shortness of breath

Possible Diagnosis

Pectus carinatum is normally noticed by a parent/caregiver or by a physician during a routine exam. If the patient, family and surgeon decide that surgery is needed, the following tests may be ordered:

  • Computed tomography (CT) of chest – detailed pictures are taken of the chest (similar to x-rays)
  • Echocardiography – ultrasound of the heart 
  • Lung function tests
  • Exercise stress testing 

Possible Treatments

Treatment is determined after a clinic visit with a pediatric surgeon. Bracing is the first line of therapy and is successful in the vast majority of patients. Surgery is reserved for those cases in which results are not achieved with bracing.

If you are concerned that your child may have a chest wall disorder or you are seeking treatment, please call us to schedule an appointment with the pediatric surgeons at Arkansas Children’s.

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