Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Pectus Carinatum

What is pectus carinatum?

Pectus carinatum (PECK-tuss care-uh-NAW-tum) is a breastbone (sternum) and rib cartilage deformity that causes the chest to bow outward. It is caused by a defect in the tough connective tissue (cartilage) that holds the ribs to the breastbone. It is sometimes called “pigeon chest” because the chest can look like a bird’s breast. Pectus carinatum symptoms can include pain. The opposite condition, called pectus excavatum, makes the cartilage grow inward.

Pectus Carinatum in Children

Pectus carinatum affects about 1 in 1,500 children. It is more common in boys than girls. It usually affects only one person in a family.

Pectus Carinatum at Seattle Children’s

We see several dozen children with this condition each year at Seattle Children’s. Most of these children can live normal, active childhoods without any treatment. When a child needs pectus carinatum treatment, our surgery team works to develop a plan that is tailored to the patient and family. We usually can avoid surgery and correct pectus carinatum with a brace.

Our surgeons are specially trained in pediatric surgery and have special expertise in children with chest wall conditions, which means they understand children’s needs and how their bodies are different from adult bodies.

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.