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Symptoms of Pectus Carinatum

Pectus carinatum may cause no symptoms at all for your child. It may not need any treatment. When there are symptoms, the most common one is pain. The pain may happen most often if your child is hit while playing sports.

Pectus carinatum is caused by a developmental defect in the tough connective tissue (cartilage) that holds the ribs to the breastbone. The cartilage flares out away from the chest and causes the breastbone to stick out. The opposite condition, called pectus excavatum, can also occur. In pectus excavatum, the cartilage grows inward and pushes the breastbone in.

You may first notice that the breastbone sticks out from the chest when your child is a baby. In other cases, you may not notice pectus carinatum until your child is older. The defect may become more noticeable as your child grows, especially during growth spurts.

For many children, the problem is the same on both sides (symmetric). But some children have the problem only on one side, or only in one spot in the chest. This may happen if only some of the cartilage forms abnormally.

Pectus Carinatum Diagnosis

The doctor will ask you for a detailed history of any symptoms your child has had, and will examine your child. A physical examination may be all that your child's doctor needs to make a diagnosis.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

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Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

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  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)