These deformities vary in severity and may be present at birth or occur during growth. There are essentially two kinds of chest deformity: pectus excavatum (hollow chest) and pectus carinatum (protruding chest). Usually, the resulting discomfort or disability is primarily aesthetic and psychological.
Surgery for pectus excavatum (hollow chest)
This is the most common deformity of the chest wall. Pectus excavatum is also called funnel chest because the sternum is sunken in. This cavity is due to excessive growth of the costal cartilage (connecting the ribs and the sternum). The resulting discomfort is primarily aesthetic. However, due to compression of the organs, respiratory and cardiac functions can be affected.
Surgical treatment consists of placing the sternum in the proper position. There are two approaches:
- Minimally invasive correction (Nuss procedure): Through two small incisions under the armpits, a temporary metal bar is inserted behind the sternum to straighten the thorax.
- Open correction (sternochondroplasty or modified Ravitch procedure): This operation involves remodeling the shape of the ribs and sternum.
In children, nonsurgical treatment with a vacuum bell may be sufficient to correct the deformity.
Learn more: Website of the Pediatric Surgery Division
Moreover, depending on the case, an aesthetic operation called filling is performed with silicone implants or by lipomodelling (injection of fat cells).
Learn more: Website of the Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery Division
Pectus carinatum surgery (protruding chest)
This rare deformity of the chest wall, also called pigeon chest, is characterized by a protrusion of the sternum. The sternum is projected forward due to the excessive length of the costal cartilage. Pectus carinatum is not harmful to a person’s health. However, the aesthetic damage caused by a protruding chest can have a significant psychological impact, especially in adolescence.
Surgery to correct this deformity yields satisfactory results in the vast majority of cases. It consists of remodeling of cartilage, which repositions the sternum towards the back (sternochondroplasty).