Pectus Carinatum, the condition more commonly known as pigeon chest, is a relatively rare birth defect. The 1 out of every 1500 children that suffer from the condition is born with an abnormally shaped chest. The reason is an anomaly in the chest wall that causes the child's breastbone to protrude outwards to an abnormal degree.
The deformity becomes more prominent as the child grows, though it is present from birth. Pectus carinatum is not usually harmful or deadly. It doesn't cause any organ damage or hinder their normal functioning in any way.
Asthma and respiratory issues are reported in some extreme cases, in addition to soreness in and around the chest area. The disorder certainly affects the physical appearance of the child and thus, can have psychological implications as the child grows. If left untreated, it can cause health issues later in life.
Treatment Options for Pectus Carinatum
Recent studies conducted regarding the illness suggest that it might occur more often than we initially realized in the past. The treatment path for your child will often vary on several factors such as:
If the illness has developed into its later stages, then surgery is usually used as a last resort option. Let’s look at some ways pectus carinatum is treated:
The Ravitch Technique
Up till a few years ago, the standard treatment option for pectus carinatum was “the Ravitch technique”. That’s an invasive surgical correction that involved making an incision across the chest and cutting away the defect-causing cartilage.
All major surgeries come with inherent risks. There can also be serious psychological and physiological complications for the minor it was performed on.
The Abramson Technique
Another way to treat the deformity with a less invasive approach than the Ravitch technique is The Abramson procedure. This is a minimally invasive surgical correction method. The procedure is comparatively recent, and much less aggressive treatment for pectus carinatum.
A metal bar is implanted in the presternal, extra-thoracic region during the surgery. The bar stays in place for a period of up to 2 years in an attempt to lessen the presentation of pectus carinatum.
Pectus Carinatum Bracing
Chest wall bracing is a great option for correcting pectus carinatum in children. Pectus carinatum bracing can be very effective if the illness is caught early enough. It’s generally prescribed for children who are still in the growing phase.
The pectus carinatum brace can help correct the abnormality by gently placing pressure on the chest to re-shape the breastbone. The pectus carinatum brace is a lightweight and wearable device custom-fitted to each child’s specific size.
How It Works
The mechanism behind the pectus carinatum brace is comparable to how braces work to straighten teeth gently. The chest bracket is tailored to the child’s size and pushes the cartilage inwards to align it better with the chest cavity.
Since the chest cartilage is more malleable in kids than other bones, the technique is generally quite effective in correcting the visible appearance of the chest wall.
The pectus carinatum brace rarely causes any problems for the child. If the child feels too much pressure or shows sensitivity towards the tightness, you can give a low dose of acetaminophen once you clear it with your pediatrician. A child’s irritation with the bracing is quite understandable and differs from physical pain or discomfort.
Finding the right balance between maintaining enough pressure to straighten the malformed curve while keeping the child comfortable can be challenging. The child’s doctor will schedule regular visits to monitor progress and make any needed re-adjustments to the brace.
Duration of Wear
Bracing typically takes place in two phases. The first is more aggressive with the child keeping the brace on for 24 hours daily. That continues till the abnormality has been corrected. The second requires the child to wear the brace only at night, anywhere from 8-12 hours until axial growth is complete.
The pectus carinatum brace is unnoticeable under regular clothing. An important plus for self-conscious children who want to participate in activities with their peers.
In most typical cases, the child will need to wear the pectus carinatum brace anywhere from six to twelve months. That duration can be longer or shorter depending on the severity of their case. At least 8-12 hours a day of wear is a must for the brace to be effective. Doctors allow the occasional break for activities such as
The success rate of the pectus carinatum brace is quite promising. Around 65-80 % of long-term patients fully recover with bracing as the only treatment administered.
Bracing is a risk-free treatment option that can have a significant impact on boosting your child's confidence.
Being vigilant in wearing the brace for the recommended daily periods is one of the best things a patient can do for recovery. Failure of pectus carinatum bracing as a treatment option is due mainly to non-compliance with the doctor’s instructions.
Get Your Child Fitted for the Pectus Carinatum Brace Today
Pectus carinatum can be a scary diagnosis to come to terms with. The good news is that the sooner you start treatment, the better your child’s chances of making a full recovery. To learn more about your child’s condition and treatment options, log on to the Align clinic website now and book an appointment.
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