Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Pectus Carinatum Treatment

Our surgery team has seen hundreds of children with pectus carinatum. This experience helps us easily diagnose your child’s condition and work with you to decide on the best treatment approach. We take a conservative approach and in most cases can avoid surgery.

Braces for Pectus Carinatum

We can often use a brace to reshape a child’s chest. The brace works in the same way that braces move teeth. Gentle, constant pressure on the breastbone pushes it into a normal position. Our Orthotics and Prosthetics Department makes these braces and custom-fits them to your child. Most children need to wear the brace for at least 12 hours a day, for at least 1 year.

Your child’s surgeon works with the Orthotics and Prosthetics team to check your child’s chest regularly and adjust their brace. You may start to see improvement within a few months.

Since we have started using this approach over a decade ago, it has worked for many patients at Seattle Children’s with pectus carinatum.

Surgery for Pectus Carinatum

We try to avoid surgery, but a small percentage of our patients need an operation to move the breastbone back into a normal position.

Before surgery, we give your child medicine (general anesthesia) to make them sleep so they don’t feel pain. Then the surgeon makes a cut (incision) in the chest, removes the cartilage that pushes the breastbone forward and cuts the breastbone so it will lie flat. Over time, the cartilage will regrow to support the breastbone in its new position.

The surgery takes about 2 to 6 hours. Your child will be in the hospital for 1 to 7 days, depending on their surgery.

After Surgery for Pectus Carinatum

Before you go home, we will teach you how to care for your child’s incision – you will need to keep it clean and dry – and how to give your child pain medicine. You should also limit your child’s activity while they recover. Your child should:

  • Sit up straight for the first month after surgery
  • Avoid lifting anything heavy for a few months
  • Avoid playing sports for 6 to 8 weeks

Your child will need to return for a follow-up visit about 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. The surgeon will make sure the incision is healing and that your child is recovering well.

Our doctors and nurses are always available to help you and answer questions.

Contact Us

To learn more about pectus carinatum treatment at Seattle Children’s, call our General and Thoracic Surgery Department at 206-987-2794 x4.