Introduction to Pectus Excavatum
Pectus excavatum is a fancy name for a funnel or concave chest. It is the most common chest wall deformity that causes more than a few ribs and the sternum to grow strangely. Usually, the sternum in pectus excavatum patients grows inward, which makes the chest appear dented in or sunken.
Pectus excavatum is usually defined as a cosmetic deformity. However, if the deformity is severe, it can cause respiratory (breathing) problems and compression of the lungs and heart. If not treated properly, the case worsens and makes problems in your chest area.
Why Does Pectus Excavatum Occur?
The cause of pectus excavatum (indented or caved in chest) is still not scientifically explained.
Researchers classify it as a congenital disorder. Almost 37% of all sunken chest patients have a first-degree family member that has a sunken chest.
They also found out that it is caused and worsened by:
- Poor posture
- Weak back musculature
- Lack of physical activity
Check out the pectus excavatum causes explained further.
Pectus Excavatum Treatment
A recent Canadian pectus excavatum study showed that in 92% of the cases pectus excavatum (funnel chest or concave chest) is treatable with proper exercises, stretching and braces. The researchers compared the results of a control group who underwent a Nuss procedure with the results of a group which tried to fix their condition solely through physical training.
By the end of the study both groups had roughly the same success ratio: 94% vs. 92% for the control group and the physical training group respectively.
Pectus Excavatum Surgery
If your pectus excavatum (funnel chest or concave chest) case is severe as this you might need a pectus excavatum surgery to repair the deformity.
The goal in pectus excavatum surgery is to remove an abnormally grown cartilage and to reposition the chest bone (sternum).
Pectus Excavatum Surgeries
- Ravitch Technique – This technique involves making a long incision across the chest to remove excess cartilage, reposition the rib cage, and implant a wedge bone graft to correct pectus excavatum. The Ravitch technique has been recently modified as a less-invasive procedure. Two stain rods are placed in the chest area to support the rib cage and are wired to the ribs on the opposite side, which creates breastbone elevation. The rods are not visible, and are removed after 3 years.
- Nuss procedure – It is the most recommended pectus excavatum surgery for adults. Two small holes are made on either side of the chest and a curved steel bar is inserted under the sternum. Designed differently for each patient, the steel bar is used to pull out the sternum and is fixed to the ribs on either side. A small steel, grooved plate may be used at the end of the bar for stabilization and to help attach the bar to the rib. The steel bar is not visible from the outside and stays in place for a minimum of three years depending on the severity of the pectus excavatum deformity.
Pectus Excavatum Surgery Pros
- Improved chest appearance
- Decreased sternum compression
- No operative pain
- Effective for adults as well as kids
- 94% success rate
Pectus Excavatum Surgery Cons
- Expensive – Around 50 000$
- Long process – Two steel rods in the chest for 3 years
- Postoperative pain
- Bar displacement
- Pectus excavatum recurrence (due to having the surgical correction completed too early prior to puberty and/or not leaving the strut or bar in place for a long enough period)
Pectus Excavatum Non-Surgical Repair
Pectus Excavatum can be treated without surgery, with the proper set of pectus excavatum exercises, breathing and braces.
A Canadian pectus excavatum study showed that the control group fixed their pectus excavatum deformity without a surgery. Their pectus excavatum exercise program was designed around the Bench Press.
The best pectus excavatum bodybuilding exercise you can do is hands down the Bench Press. It works your whole chest, shoulders, triceps and your entire core. It is a great pectus excavatum bodybuilding exercise since it is the most effective mass and strength builder in the upper body, which fills the gap made by pectus excavatum.
The exact same pectus excavatum weight lifting program that was used in the study, reveals how you can finally gain size and strength while at the same time taking your bench press to a new level. Check it out!