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How does the diagnosis process proceed in Pectus Excavatum?

Pectus excavatum, known as sunken chest, can raise both aesthetic and health concerns. For individuals and families dealing with this condition, understanding the diagnostic process is crucial. Diagnosis is the first step toward determining appropriate treatments and management strategies. Let’s explore how the diagnosis process for pectus excavatum unfolds.

Step 1: Physical Examination

The diagnostic journey typically begins with a physical examination. The doctor assesses the shape and depth of the chest cavity to evaluate the presence and severity of pectus excavatum. Additionally, the doctor will review the patient's medical history to identify any symptoms of respiratory difficulty or heart-related issues.

Step 2: Chest Radiography (X-Ray)

Following the physical examination, the doctor usually requests a chest X-ray. This allows for a detailed examination of the chest structure and provides an objective measurement of the severity of pectus excavatum.

Step 3: Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

To further assess the severity of pectus excavatum and its potential impact on internal organs, a Computed Tomography (CT) scan may be performed. A CT scan offers a three-dimensional image of the chest cavity and is used to calculate the Haller Index. The Haller Index is the ratio of the transverse diameter of the chest to the shortest distance between the sternum and the spine and serves as an indicator of the severity of pectus excavatum.

Step 4: Pulmonary Function Tests

Pulmonary function tests may be conducted to evaluate the impact of pectus excavatum on breathing. These tests measure lung capacity and airflow, helping to determine the effect of pectus excavatum on the respiratory system.

Step 5: Cardiac Tests

If there is a suspicion that pectus excavatum might be affecting the heart, cardiac tests such as an Electrocardiogram (EKG) or echocardiogram might be requested. These tests aid in assessing the structure and function of the heart.


The diagnosis process for pectus excavatum involves a physical examination and a series of medical tests. This process helps to assess the condition's severity and its potential health impacts, enabling the determination of the most suitable treatment options. If you notice symptoms of pectus excavatum or have concerns, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. Early diagnosis and intervention can significantly improve the health and quality of life for those affected by this condition.

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