Funnel chest is a birth defect that causes the breastbone to be caved in. Funnel chest usually does not cause any symptoms or complications. Sometimes it can cause problems if the breastbone pushes on the heart and lungs.
This condition is also called sunken chest.
The exact cause of funnel chest is not known. It may be caused by overgrowth of the tissue that connects the ribs to the breastbone. The abnormal tissue may push the breastbone in.
The chest curves inward instead of outward and looks sunken. Often it can be seen at birth. The indentation of the chest may get worse in the teen years. It usually stays the same in adulthood.
Other than a sunken breastbone area, most children don’t have symptoms. If the condition is severe, symptoms may include:
Your child’s healthcare provider will review your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Your child may have tests such as:
If your child does not have symptoms, your child may not need treatment.
For more severe cases, especially if the sunken chest is causing problems with your child’s heart or lungs, your child’s healthcare provider may suggest surgery. Metal supports may be put inside the chest to raise the breastbone to a more normal position. They are usually removed after a year or two. Surgery can improve your child’s posture and help the heart and lungs work better.