Pectus Excavatum Facts

Pectus Excavatum is a condition where the cartilage that holds the ribs to the breastbone grows abnormally. The cartilage pushes the breastbone inward, making the chest look sunken in. 

Here are just a few facts you should know about the chest wall deformity:


  • One in 300 children have pectus excavatum, making it the most common chest wall birth defects.
  • Pectus excavatum is more common in boys than girls. In fact, boys are three times more likely to suffer from the chest wall deformity.
  • The deformity can worsen during onset of puberty, which means the chest wall can look more sunken in. However, there are also cases where the chest looks less sunken in as a child grows.
  • Physical symptoms are not well recognized and typically include shortness of breath, chest pain and inability to take a deep breath.
  • Pectus excavatum is most commonly caused by excessive growth of the connective tissue (cartilage) that joins the ribs to the breastbone.
  • About 40 percent of people who suffer from pectus excavatum have a family member with the same condition.
  • Pectus excavatum has also been associated with minor psychological problems such as social anxiety and loss of motivation.

Treating  in California 

Dr. Daniel Bethencourt is one of the few surgeons in Southern California who performs minimally invasive pectus excavatum. He has treated both adults and children who have the chest deformity with the “NUSS” Procedure. During the NUSS procedure, a  C-shaped metal strut is placed behind the breastbone and in front of the heart through a small incision on each side of the chest. The surgeon then rotates the metal strut halfway around to elevate the breastbone. Rotating the metal strut also bends the cartilage segments of the ribs.

Contact our office at (562) 988-9333 to schedule an appointment.