What is the cause of pectus excavatum?

Updated: Oct 30, 2018
  • Author: Andre Hebra, MD; Chief Editor: Girish D Sharma, MD, FCCP, FAAP  more...
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Answer

The cause of pectus excavatum is unknown. It probably originates from a genetic defect that results in abnormal musculoskeletal growth. The cartilaginous portion of the rib is very likely the main source of this abnormal growth pattern. Abnormalities of rib morphogenesis and growth are the most likely causes of pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum. In pectus excavatum, the sternum is thought to be pushed in by abnormal growth at the articulation with the ribs and cartilage. Again, the exact mechanism that results in this abnormal growth pattern is not known. Increased work of breathing, as is observed in young patients during exercise or play activity, may contribute to the progression of the pectus deformity, particularly during early the teenage years. However, no scientific evidence supports such a theory.


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