Typically, pectus excavatum can be identified by simply looking at the chest. In a recent 2022 study, surgeons visually diagnosed pectus excavatum in 55% to 95% of the patients.
However, your doctor might also recommend various tests to look for other possible underlying heart and lung issues caused by the deformity.
These tests could consist of the following:
- Chest X-ray
- Lung function tests
- CT scan or MRI
Benefits of visual diagnosis
Although the visual appearance of the deformity is the biggest enemy of our mental health and self-esteem, if we look at the positive side, it can be something good.
With a noticeable dent, the chances of misdiagnosing pectus excavatum can be very slim, specifically when a doctor examines it.
Disadvantages of visual self-diagnosis
As pectus excavatum can be very noticeable, it’s hard for a person to avoid it and not be aware of it.
You can overstress yourself if you think you have the deformity but haven’t talked to a doctor yet. You may think you can’t correct the deformity you will live with for the rest of your life.
However, once you’ve received a formal medical diagnosis, you can use reputable websites to learn more about your deformity. Again, please be aware that the internet can also be a place for misinformation.
Self-diagnosis may put your mind at ease, but it is always preferable to hear the expert’s advice from a doctor in the best cases.
Usually, this deformation isn’t harmful physically because it isn’t very severe. The doctor’s words can be comforting to you and your family!
My story with a visual diagnosis
My experience with pectus excavatum began between the ages of 10 and 11. That was when I felt conscious of my physical look for the first time as I entered puberty and realized that my chest differed from my friends. I would like to know why my chest has a dent in the middle and what it means.
My first Google search about the deformity was: “why is there a hole in my chest.” That’s when I noticed something was wrong with my chest. I was desperate to know what it meant.
I learned what the deformity is by doing a quick Google search. That was my first step toward visual self-diagnosis, and I’m sure many of us with pectus excavatum began off the same way when we were alone in front of the mirror and asked ourselves if there was something wrong with us.
I know those first moments can be tricky and discouraging, so you shouldn’t go through them alone, so please, share your feelings with your parents or loved ones at the beginning!
My doctor Dr. Blagoja Georgieski confirmed that it is a deformity called pectus excavatum.
Ask for a professional medical answer
In other words, I initially diagnosed that something was wrong with me, and then I learned the term for this deformity online. That indicates that I visually self-diagnosed my sunken chest deformity.
It was followed by a medical diagnosis, which was unquestionably necessary.
I’m writing this article to let you know that visual self-diagnosis can be a convenient first step for pectus excavatum, but please don’t stop there. Ask a doctor for advice and further guidance!
If you are a young person starting to question your physical malformation for the first time, know that you are not alone. Visual self-diagnosis is possible and is frequently accurate in cases of funnel chest deformity. After that, we need proper guidance if improving the deformity is necessary or if it causes us psychological damage.
My story with the deformity continued with doctor-prescribed physical therapy, swimming classes, posture correcting exercises, and chest strengthening exercises.
Once I was sure there were no other heart or lung difficulties due to the sunken chest, I continued exercising, significantly improving my quality of life.
Everybody’s pectus excavatum story is unique. Remember, diagnosing the deformity as early as possible is always best, so adequate treatment will be recommended.
I hope this blog post was helpful. Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, please write them in the comment section below or contact me via the contact form.
- Daemen JHT, de Loos ER, Geraedts TCM, Van Veer H, Van Huijstee PJ, Elenbaas TWO, et al. Visual diagnosis of pectus excavatum: An inter-observer and intra-observer agreement analysis. J Pediatr Surg. 2022 Mar;57(3):526–31.
- Pectus excavatum – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pectus-excavatum/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355488
- CT scan – Mayo Clinic [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ct-scan/about/pac-20393675
- Chest X-rays – Mayo Clinic [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/chest-x-rays/about/pac-20393494