Our Expert Surgeons

The Chest Wall Deformity Correction Center at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children is one of only six chest wall repair clinics offering the Dynamic Compression Device Brace in the country, and the only facility in the western United States. Our world-class physicians and staff are dedicated to your child’s health, and are constantly at the forefront of research and innovation.

Chest Wall Deformities

Chest wall defects are common congenital abnormalities occurring in up to one in 300 births. While the condition can occur in both sexes, it is about four times more likely to occur in boys than in girls.

Pectus Carinatum (PC) is a common pediatric condition identified by an overgrowth of rib cartilages that cause the chest to protrude forward. The most common manifestations of PC occur:

  • In pre-adolescent males between 11-14 years old during a growth spurt
  • From birth, identified around 2-3 years old
  • After open heart surgery (least common)

What Are the Symptoms?

Most people with PC will develop normal hearts and lungs, but the deformity of the chest wall may prevent them from functioning at optimal capability. Many people with PC, children especially, will experience: 

  • Shortness of breath during activity
  • Decreased endurance
  • Occasional chest pain.

In addition to physical symptoms, there can also be psychosocial implications. The shape of the chest can cause embarrassment, lack of self-confidence and possible disruption to social connection through adolescence and into adulthood.

How Are Chest Wall Deformities Treated?

Pectus Carinatum can be treated in two ways: external bracing and surgical intervention.

Bracing

Bracing is the first treatment choice during childhood and adolescence due to its minimally invasive, overall positive results. Because the chest is still compliant during childhood and adolescence, bracing of the chest applies pressure and encourages gradual movement to the sternum in the same way that orthodontic braces move teeth into their proper position.

Learn more about the Dynamic Compression Device Brace.

Surgery

Surgical correction for PC is a well-established and recognized option for treatment when the Dynamic Compression Device is not appropriate or fails to correct the deformity.

An incision is made in the center of the chest to repair the abnormality by reshaping and/or removing abnormal rib cartilage, with additional sternum (breast bone) revision or reposition necessary in some cases. After surgery, drains are left in place for three to six days and are removed when drainage decreases.

Hospitalization after PC correction surgery may last anywhere from three to five days depending on the patient’s body and healing; the patient also undergoes strict activity restrictions for a minimum of two to three months after surgery.

To schedule appointment with any of our world-class physicians at the Chest Wall Deformity Correction Center, call (303) 839-6001.

Pectus Carinatum (Dynamic Compression Brace)

A common pediatric condition identified by an overgrowth of rib cartilages that cause the chest to protrude forward. Pectus Carinatum can be treated in two ways: external bracing and surgical intervention. Learn more about the Dynamic Compression Device Brace.

Before Bracing

After Bracing

Pectus Excavatum or Sunken Chest

  • Most common chest-wall deformity
  • Caused by abnormal growth of cartilage where the ribs connect to the sternum
  • Most noticeable in early teenage years with a rapid growth spurt
  • Most common symptoms – back pain, shortness of breath, exercise intolerance and chest pain
  • Diagnosis requires a physical examination with pediatric surgeon
  • To achieve anatomical correction of PE is most often an operative procedure called the Nuss Procedure

Nuss Procedure

  • Minimally invasive surgery using small incisions that are approx. 1 inch long on each side of the chest
  • The incisions allows for the placement of curved steel bar under the sternum, which is customized to each patient , and instantly corrects the PE.
  • The bar is not visible from the outside and stays in place for a minimum of two years
Meet our patient, Kai: a Hawaiian teen who has been dubbed 'Ironman' after surgery to correct sunken chest.

Rocky Mountain Pediatric Surgery
2055 High St.
Suite 370
Denver, CO 80205

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