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Chest Wall Clinic

Chest Wall Clinic

For more information:
Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Surgery Group

Chest wall deformities in children can affect both the health of a child and a child’s self image, especially as the child moves into adolescence. Children's Hospital has a clinic to treat chest wall deformities, specifically pectus carinatum (pigeon chest) and pectus excavatum (funnel chest). Heath problems from chest wall deformities can include difficulty breathing, problems tolerating exercise and other physical limitations, chest pain, frequent respiratory infections and heart palpitations.

Under the direction of the Pediatric Surgery Group at Children’s Hospital, the clinic is a multidisciplinary clinic where a patient’s health care team will come together to formulate the best plan for the patient. This includes the surgeons, nurse practitioners, psychologists, subspecialists such as pulmonologists and orthopedists as needed, pain and palliative care clinicians, social workers, care coordinators and other clinicians involved in the patient’s care.

Pectus Carinatum (pigeon chest)

Pectus carinatum (pigeon chest)

Pectus carinatum (pigeon chest) is a disorder of the chest wall because of an unusual growth of the rib and breastbone and gives the chest a birdlike appearance. This condition will be treated with an innovative bracing system developed in South America by Argentinean physicians Marcelo Martinez-Ferro, M.D. and Carlos Fraire, M.D. Children’s Hospital will be the first hospital in Tennessee and the second in the southeast to use this technology. Each patient will receive a custom fitted brace that measures and adjusts pressure on the thoracic wall to gradually push the breastbone back into normal position. Data shows that this therapy leads to fewer difficulties in use, fewer surgeries and better compliance in use by patients. This technology helps to avoid surgery in almost 90 percent of the cases. Duration of treatment varies by severity. The monthly clinic will track a patient’s progress and the average treatment.

Pectus Excavatum with Vacuum Bell
Illustrations courtesy of KidsHealth

Pectus excavatum (funnel chest or sunken chest)

Pectus excavatum (funnel chest or sunken chest) is a congenital deformity of the chest wall that causes several ribs and the breastbone/sternum to grow in an inward direction. Using a special vacuum bell, the treatment looks like a large suction cup attached to a child’s or teen’s chest creating a vacuum seal and gradually lifting the sternum over time. This device allows patients to use it without interfering with school, sports and other daily activities. Until now, treatment of pectus excavatum often required surgery, where a surgeon would insert a curved metal bar to a patient’s chest to push out the sternum and ribs. Just like the bracing system, this too will be an alternative to surgery for many patients.