Pigeon breast: what it is and how to fix

Pigeon breast is the popular name for a rare malformation, known scientifically asPectus carinatum, in which the sternum bone is more removed, causing a protrusion in the chest. Depending on the degree of the change, this protrusion can be quite noticeable or go unnoticed.

Generally, the child withPectus carinatum he does not have any health problem, as the heart and lung continue to function properly, however, due to physical changes, it is common for the child to feel uncomfortable with his own body.

Thus, although the treatment is also done to relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath, it is often done only to improve the physical aspect, improving the child's self-esteem.

Main features

The most relevant characteristic of a person with a pigeon breast is the protrusion of the sternum bone in the middle of the chest, which causes problems with self-esteem and body image. However, there are also cases where symptoms such as:

  • Frequent feeling of shortness of breath, especially during exercise;
  • Frequent respiratory infections;
  • Asthma.

Deformation of the breast bone can be noticed soon after birth or even during the early years of childhood, but it is common for it to be more noticeable around the age of 12, due to the natural growth of the bones.

Associated withPectus carinatumit is also common for pediatricians to identify other changes in the muscles or spine, the most common being scoliosis, in which there is a curvature in the alignment of the spine. Learn more about scoliosis and how it is treated.

What causes pigeon breast

There is still no known cause for the appearance ofPectus carinatumHowever, it is known that an excessive development of the cartilages that connect the sternum to the ribs occurs, causing the bone to be more projected forward.

Most of the time this malformation passes through several members of the same family, with a 25% chance of the child being born with a pigeon breast if there is any case in the family.

Treatment options

There are two main ways to correct the malformation caused byPectus carinatum:

1. Chest strap

The brace is usually used to try to avoid surgery and can be used on children or young adults when the bones are still growing. This type of device is placed on the sternum and puts pressure on the malformation, forcing the bones to return to the correct location.

Typically, the brace needs to be worn between 12 to 23 hours a day and the total treatment time varies depending on the results. This type of brace must always be guided by the orthopedist, since depending on the degree and symmetry of the alteration, different braces may be needed.

2. Surgery

Surgery is the fastest way to treat the pigeon breast, but it is usually only used in the most severe cases or when the brace is unable to resolve the change.

The type of surgery used is known as Ravitch and, in this procedure, the doctor cuts the chest, removes excess cartilage from the sternum bone and correctly reposition the ribs.

During surgery, the surgeon can leave a metal bar inside the ribs to help maintain the shape of the chest. This bar must be maintained for at least 6 months and, during that time, the child should avoid doing activities that involve striking, such as football, for example.