published Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Ask a doctor: My teenage son's chest has a bowl shape in it. What is this, and is it hurting him?

By Dr. Lisa Smith

Q: My teenage son's chest has a bowl shape in it. He says it doesn't bother him, but he is self-conscious about taking his shirt off. What is this, and is it hurting him?

A: The bowl in his chest is a congenital deformity called pectus excavatum. Some people have just the opposite with the chest pointing out called pectus carinatum. Either way, it usually deepens and aches during periods of rapid growth such as adolescence. Chest wall deformities run in families, and not everyone has the same degree of deformity. Fortunately, correction is possible and can greatly benefit these children psychologically and physiologically. Nonsurgical, minimally invasive and traditional surgical treatments are all available, depending on the type and severity of the deformity. A pediatric surgeon can help you in your decision to correct it.

— Dr. Lisa Smith, University Surgical Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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