Pectus excavatum is a medical condition where an individual’s breastbone is sunken into one’s chest. Instead of bowing outward, the chest bows inward. In serious cases, pectus excavatum looks like the center chest has been hollowed, leaving a huge deep dent. Generally, the medical condition is visible right after birth but the condition worsens during adolescence. It can interfere with the heart and lung’s functions while severe cases make a person self-conscious.
Pectum excavatum surgery can correct this physical deformity. Boys are more prone to pectus excavatum than girls. Although the exact cause of the deformity is unknown, it is suspected that it is hereditary in nature because it has been found to run in families. It can also occur with other conditions like Marfan syndrome, scoliosis, and Mitral valve prolapsed. Marfan syndrome is a medical condition which involves the connective tissues.
This hereditary condition results to very long and thin limbs and fingers. Scoliosis, on the other hand, is prevalent among pre-adolescent girls and results to an atypical curvature of the spine. Mitral valve prolapsed reduces the heart’s efficiency which makes it difficult to pump blood. The mitral valve is found in-between the two chambers of heart’s left side.
A person with pectus excavatum must be discussed with the family doctor for him/her to refer a specialist in pectus excavatum surgery. Typically, an orthopedic surgeon performs the surgery. The orthopedic doctor may ask for detailed descriptions of the symptoms and signs; any data about past medical dilemmas, information about common medical problems which run in the family, any dietary supplements and medications taken, and a person with the deformity can ask the doctor about pectus excavatum, especially available treatments.
Diagnosis of pectus excavatum is simply done by chest examination. However, the doctor may suggest other types of examination to check for any other medical conditions associated with pectus excavatum which may affect the lungs and the heart. Other tests may include chest X-ray, computerized tomography, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, lung function tests, and exercise test.
This medical condition can be corrected through pectus excavatum surgery. However, such surgery is often reserved for individuals who have exhibited moderate to severe symptoms and signs. Physical therapy may be done for those individuals with mild symptoms and signs. There are exercises for posture improvement and enlarge the degree for the chest expansion. The doctor can evaluate mild pectus excavatum every 6 to 24 months to make sure those symptoms and signs do not aggravate.
The most common types of pectus excavatum surgery are larger and smaller incisions. Larger incision uses the Ravitch technique where the surgeon can directly view the breastbone. The problematic cartilage is removed and the breastbone is fixed using mesh or metal strut supports. The temporary supports are taken out after 9 to 12 months. The smaller incision, on the other hand, uses the Nuss procedure where a narrow fiber-optic camera and long-handled tools are inserted through the small incisions.
A metal bar is fastened to the depressed breastbone. In severe cases, more metal bars are used. The bars are taken out after 2 years. Both medical surgeries have positive results therefore it doesn’t matter which surgery an individual prefers. For best results, the pectus excavation surgery must be performed when the child reaches 8 years old up to the adolescent years. However, there are also adults which benefited greatly from the surgeries.