FUNNEL CHEST: TREAT EARLY TO REGAIN YOUR CONFIDENCE
Funnel chest is a disorder that does not show any symptom but it will affect your appearance and self-confidence. Unsurprisingly, if discovered at young age, this problem should be treated immediately. If left untreated, it will be difficult to treat and cost the patient‘s self-esteem.
What is Funnel Chest?
Funnel chest or Pectus Excavatum is a condition in which the chest wall is deformed. It is caused by abnormal growth of the cartilage that connects the breastbone and ribs, leaving a deep dent on the chest. Normally, there is no symptom but patients will lose thier confidence. In severe case, it may compress lungs or heart which can cause leaky heart valve.
What is the Cause of Funnel Chest?
It is unclear what cause a funnel chest but it is more common in boys than girls, and can also lead to scoliosis. Genetic factors can indicate the conditions at birth such as weak connective tissue, congenital ligamentous laxity, etc. Funnel chest will be noticable between the ages of 8 and 12 years old which is the right age for treatment.
Symptoms of Funnel Chest
Visit your doctor immedately if you have the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Poor exercise capacity
- Lost of self-confidence
How to Diagnose Funnel Chest
- CT Scan with high resolution image to examine any abnormal function of chest and to see bone structure whether it is concave or flare out, which side it tilted and how severe it is.
- Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) to diagnose and evaluate the severity of the condition and whether it compresses the lungs.
- Echocardiogram to check if the patients also have leaky heart valve or not.
Treatments for Funnel Chest
There are both non-surgical and surgical treatments:
- Non-surgical surgery is suitable for patients from 8-12 years old with mild conditions. The doctor will use Vacuum Bell to pull the breastbone forward. This gradual treatment will take about 1-2 years for the best result.
- Surgery is the best treatment for funnel chest. There are 2 types of the surgery:
- Ravitch Procedure or Sternal Turnover is an open surgery that has been used for sometimes. The breastbone will be cut out and turn it to the normal position or cut the cartilage and lift it up.
- Nuss Procedure involves inserting steel bars that are placed under the breastbones using small incisions with the assistance of a small camera. The bars will be removed 3-4 years after the procedure. This procedure helps reduce complications with faster recovery.
Once the patients return home, they should refrain from lifting heavy objects, playing contact sports such as basketball, football, volleyball, etc. Light exercises are recommended such as jogging or swimming for at least 6 months.
Can Funnel Chest Be Ignored?
Although the conditon is not severe, it can cost the patient personality development and lack of confidence at an early age, leaving them shy from social life. Therefore, the treament not only helps them regain their confiidence, but also helps them breathe more freely.
Pectus Excavatum Specialist
Asst. Prof. Dr. Sira Laohathai, Thoracic Surgeon specialized in MIS Pulmonary Endoscopy, Bangkok Heart Hospital
Hospital Specialized in Cardiomegaly
Cardiology Clinic at Bangkok Heart Hospital is ready to treat your cardiomegaly problem with an expert team of specialist and multidisciplinary doctors including state-of-the-art equipment to restore your healthy life.