Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Pectus Excavatum

What Is Pectus Excavatum?

Pectus excavatum (pronounced PECK-tuss ex-kuh-VAW-tum) is a condition in which the breastbone (sternum) and rib cartilage are formed in a way that causes a dent in the chest. It is also called sunken chest or funnel chest. Most times, this dent is in the lower half of the breastbone. Pectus excavatum may be mild, moderate or severe. The breastbone may press on the heart and lungs.

Pectus Excavatum in Children

This condition affects about 1 in 1,000 children. Boys are five times more likely than girls to have it. Pectus excavatum can run in families, but most often only one person in a family is affected. Some children with pectus excavatum have an associated condition, such as Marfan syndrome. But most children don't have conditions associated with pectus excavatum.

Pectus Excavatum at Seattle Children's

We treat many children with pectus excavatum at Children's. Dozens are referred to us every year. Many of these children never need surgery. For those who do, our surgeons are experienced at performing the two types of operations used to move the breastbone forward into a normal position: the Ravitch repair and Nuss procedure. We have performed several hundred Ravitch procedures over the years. The Nuss procedure is now the more common treatment. We have done more than 100 Nuss procedures at Children's.

When you come to Children's, you have a team of people to care for your child before, during and after surgery. Along with your child's surgeon, you are connected with nurses, child life specialists, social workers and others. We work together to meet all of your child's health needs and help your family through this experience.

Since 1907, Children's has been treating children only. Our team members are trained in their fields and also in meeting the unique needs of children. For example, the doctors who give your child anesthesia are board certified in pediatric anesthesiology. This means they have extra years of training in how to take care of kids. Our child life specialists know how to help children understand their illnesses and treatments in ways that make sense for their age. Our expertise in pediatrics truly makes a difference for our patients and families.