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Pectus excavatum: Etiology and evaluation

Oscar H Mayer, MD
Section Editor
Gregory Redding, MD
Deputy Editor
Alison G Hoppin, MD


Pectus excavatum (PE), or "funnel chest," is a deformity of the chest wall characterized by a sternal depression (picture 1). The clinical significance of PE depends on three issues:

Severity of the chest wall defect

Cardiopulmonary morbidity

Psychosocial impact, because the defect alters the patient's appearance

Despite decades of experience with surgical and nonsurgical treatment, and efforts to quantify outcomes in each of these areas, the decision of when and how to treat PE remains controversial. These issues are discussed in a separate topic review. (See "Pectus excavatum: Treatment".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 29, 2017.
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