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What are the causes of pectus excavatum?

Pectus excavatum is characterized by the inward collapse of the front chest wall, potentially negatively affecting both appearance and sometimes physical health. Also known as funnel chest, it is a subject of interest for many families and children affected by this condition. So, what causes pectus excavatum? When seeking an answer to this question, it's important to understand the complexity and multi-factorial nature of the topic.

Genetic Predisposition

One of the primary reasons for pectus excavatum is genetic predisposition. Studies have shown that this condition recurs in families and has a genetic component. However, the specific genes that directly cause pectus excavatum have not yet been fully identified.

Bone and Cartilage Development

A fundamental factor in the development of pectus excavatum is the abnormal growth and development of the bones and cartilage that make up the chest wall. Specifically, the excessive growth of the cartilage at the back part of the ribs, which are attached to the breastbone (sternum), can lead to the breastbone being pushed inward, thus creating a depression.

Growth Phases

During the growth phases of children, particularly during puberty, it is common for pectus excavatum to become more pronounced. Rapid growth during this period can make pre-existing structural abnormalities more visible.

Environmental Factors and Lifestyle

There are no clear pieces of evidence that environmental factors and lifestyle directly contribute to the development of pectus excavatum. However, general health and physical activity are known to be important for supporting the structure of the chest wall and increasing respiratory capacity.

Relationship with Other Conditions

In some cases, pectus excavatum may be associated with genetic disorders such as Marfan Syndrome. Such conditions can cause changes in the general body structure and the skeletal system and may play a role in the emergence of pectus excavatum.


The causes of pectus excavatum range from genetic factors to abnormalities in the development of bones and cartilage. Although the exact causes cannot be fully determined, genetic predisposition and changes during growth phases play a significant role in the onset of this condition. This information can help families and individuals affected to better understand and manage pectus excavatum. Specifically, early diagnosis and the determination of suitable treatment methods can improve the quality of life for affected individuals.

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