Cardiopulmonary Manifestations of Pectus Excavatum

Michael K. Cheezum, MD; Christopher J. Lettieri, MD


April 10, 2008

In This Article


Pectus excavatum is the most common congenital defect of the anterior chest wall. Although most cases are purely cosmetic, the abnormal appearance can cause poor self-image, leading to various disturbances -- from hypochondriasis to depression to suicidal tendencies. The presence of pectus excavatum should prompt further consideration for skeletal anomalies ( ie scoliosis) and cardiopulmonary manifestations to include mitral valve prolapse, restrictive lung disease, and asthma. Clinically, patients may present with limited functional capacity and diminished exercise tolerance. Correction is largely successful and may mitigate the functional limitations associated with this deformity. However, no consensus exists as to the cardiopulmonary effects of various surgical techniques. The last half-century has seen several advances in repair procedures. Various options are available, including variations of the Ravitch operation and the minimally invasive Nuss procedure. Further investigations of these and newer techniques are necessary to clarify their impact on functional and specific cardiopulmonary measures.


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