Pectus Excavatum

What is Pectus Excavatum?

Pectus excavatum (a Latin term meaning hollowed chest) is the most common congenital deformity of the anterior wall of the chest, in which several ribs and the sternum grow abnormally. This produces a caved-in or sunken appearance of the chest. It can either be present at birth or not develop until puberty.

Pectus excavatum is sometimes considered to be cosmetic, however it can impair cardiac and respiratory function, and cause pain in the chest and back.

  • Pectus excavatum, the most common chest wall birth defect, affects one in 300.
  • Overgrowth of the rib cartilages, cause unknown, can be hereditary.
  • Pectus deformities are more common in males than females.
  • Deformity worsens during onset of puberty until about age 18.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Inability to take deep breath
  • Shortness of breath, lack of stamina during exertion
  • Anterior chest pain
  • Variety of respiratory complications

Methods of surgical correction are best performed by surgeons specializing in this area. Severity of Pectus Excavatum can be measured by the Pectus Severity Index, measuring vital capacity and lung capacity.

For additional information regarding this procedure or for more information, contact Mageeā€™s Thoracic Surgery Services at

  • Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
  • 300 Halket St.
  • Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3180
  • Main Hospital/Operator:
  • To find a physician, or schedule an appointment:
    1-866-MyMagee (696-2433)
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