The pediatric surgical team at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield treats chest wall abnormalities of all degrees. Two of the most common forms of chest wall abnormalities are:
Roughly one in every 400 children is born with a condition called pectus excavatum, in which the breastbone (sternum) is indented or depressed. Often present at birth, the condition becomes more pronounced in early adolescence when there are growth spurts. Pectus excavatum can lead to compression and displacement of the heart and lungs. At times, it can lead to other complications. The condition can also cause a great deal of emotional stress for children. Often, they do not want to participate in activities that will expose their chest.
In the past, a lengthy invasive operation was required to correct the indentation in the sternum. Since the Springfield Shriners Hospital Chest Wall Deformity Clinic was founded in 1998, we have helped hundreds of patients by using a minimally invasive technique called the Nuss procedure. Instead of removing rib cartilage and cutting the sternum, a scope is used to push the sternum up, correcting the indentation with minimal scarring.
A slightly less common condition is pectus carinatum. With this condition, which occurs in about one in 1,700 children, the sternum sticks out. More common in boys than girls, it often becomes present around age 11 and worsens as children grow.
As with pectus excavatum, the only solution in the past was a major operation to remove rib cartilage and cut the sternum to flatten out the chest. Working with the Pediatric Prosthetic and Orthotic Services – Northeast, LLC, department since 1998, we have treated hundreds of patients without surgery. We have provided the patients with custom-fitted braces that apply direct pressure to the protruding sternum, shifting the chest wall back to a normal shape, and have found this kind of bracing to be a safe and effective solution for pectus carinatum in children. And the more a patient uses the brace in a given day, the faster his or her chest will be corrected. Some patients have a correction in as few as six months when the brace is worn 20 hours a day.
All care delivered at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield is focused on the surgical needs of children. Above all, the expert medical team works collaboratively to ensure that children benefit from the finest, most advanced pediatric specialty care. Their achievements are our measure of our success.
To schedule an appointment, call new patient access at 413-735-1234 or 800-322-5905.