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Pectus Excavatum: Effects on Growth and Development

Pectus excavatum, also known as shoemaker's chest, is a deformity characterized by inward collapse of the chest wall. This deformity can negatively affect the growth and development of the individual starting from childhood.

Effects in Childhood

Pectus excavatum is usually recognized within the first year after birth (Shamberger, 2010). The deformity becomes more prominent and severe with the growth of the child. Especially during adolescence, the depression of the chest wall increases even more (Nuss and Kelly, 2010).

Pectus excavatum in childhood can lead to the following problems:

- Breathing difficulties: The depression in the rib cage can cause breathing problems by disrupting the normal development and function of the lungs (Haller et al., 2014).

- Decreased exercise tolerance: Decreased respiratory capacity limits children's ability to engage in physical activity and sports (Kelly and Shamberger, 2016).

- Psychological problems: The difference in appearance can negatively affect children's self-esteem and social adjustment (Steinmann et al., 2011).

Effects in Adolescence

Adolescence is the period when deformity-related problems are most severe in patients with pectus excavatum. The following effects can be seen during this period:

- Impaired respiratory and cardiac function: The collapse of the rib cage may further hinder the normal development of the lungs and heart (Shamberger, 2010).

- Limitation of physical activity: Respiratory and heart problems significantly reduce the ability of adolescents to engage in sports and physical activity (Kelly and Shamberger, 2016).

- Psychological problems: Differences in appearance negatively affect adolescents' self-esteem, social adjustment and mental health (Steinmann et al., 2011).

Early Diagnosis and Treatment is Important

In patients with pectus excavatum, adverse effects on growth and development can be largely prevented or mitigated by early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Surgical and non-surgical treatment options play an important role in improving patients' quality of life.

In conclusion, pectus excavatum chest wall deformity can adversely affect an individual's growth and development during childhood and adolescence. Respiratory, physical activity and psychological problems can significantly reduce the quality of life of patients. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment play a critical role in preventing these adverse effects.


Haller, J. A., Loughlin, G. M., Lietman, S. A., Neviere, R., & Croitoru, D. P. (2014). Pectus excavatum: a 10-year review of results in 224 patients. Journal of Pediatric Surgery, 49(7), 1211-1216.

Kelly, R. E., & Shamberger, R. C. (2016). Pectus excavatum. In Pediatric Surgery (pp. 1021-1036). Springer, Cham.

Nuss, D., & Kelly Jr, R. E. (2010). Minimally invasive surgical correction of chest wall deformities in children (Nuss procedure). In Seminars in Pediatric Surgery (Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 166-177). WB Saunders.

Shamberger, R. C. (2010). Congenital chest wall deformities. Current problems in surgery, 47(8), 586-650.

Steinmann, C., Krille, S., Mueller, A., Weber, P., Reingruber, B., & Martin, A. (2011). Pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum patients suffer from lower quality of life and impaired body image: a control group comparison of psychological characteristics prior to surgical correction. European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, 40(5), 1138-1145.






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