Chest wall defects (Pectus excavatum) is a medical term that describes an abnormal formation of the rib cage that gives the chest a caved-in or sunken appearance.
Pectus excavatum is often a congenital (present at birth) abnormality. Or, it can develop after birth. The condition can be mild or severe.
Pectus excavatum is due to too much growth of the connective tissue that joins the ribs to the breastbone (sternum). This causes the sternum to grow inward. As a result, there is a depression in the chest over the sternum, which may appear quite deep.
If the condition is severe, the heart and lungs can be affected. Also, the way the chest looks may cause emotional stress for the child.
Contact your health care provider if you or your child has any of the following:
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Feel depressed or angry about the condition
- Feel tired, even when not being active