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Diseases of the chest wall

Richard M Schwartzstein, MD
Section Editor
Talmadge E King, Jr, MD
Deputy Editor
Helen Hollingsworth, MD


The chest wall is a critical component of the respiratory pump. Diseases that alter the structure of the chest wall affect the function of the pump, and may result in respiratory compromise or failure. The components of the chest wall include the bony structures (ribs, spine), respiratory muscles, and nerves connecting the central nervous system with the respiratory muscles.

Chest wall structure and physiology and diseases that affect the bony portion of the chest wall will be reviewed here. Included are discussions of the following conditions:

Ankylosing spondylitis

Congenital deformities, including pectus excavatum

Flail chest

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Literature review current through: Sep 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 10, 2017.
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