It is not known why some children are born with this problem. It may be due to:
- Excessive pulling on the breastbone and rib cage from shortened diaphragm muscle tendons
- Abnormalities in cartilage of the rib cage
|The Rib Cage|
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The main problem is an indentation in the front of the chest wall. It may be mild or deep enough to form a bowl shape.
A child may not have symptoms until growth begins during the teenage years. A severe indentation may cause:
- Difficulty exercising
- Shortness of breath with activity
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain
People who do not have symptoms may not need treatment. Breathing exercises and aerobic activity may be advised.
In others, the goal of treatment is to repair the problem. It can ease symptoms and improve the way the chest looks. This is done with surgery. Choices are:
- Nuss procedure—secures a metal bar to the breastbone to push it into a better position for two to three years
- Ravitch procedure—removes cartilage from the breastbone and ribs, places the breastbone in its proper position, and uses a metal strut and mesh to hold it in place for 6 to 12 months
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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