Funnel chest is a birth defect defined by caving in of the breastbone. This defect does not typically trigger any symptoms or complications. In some cases, though, it can cause issues if the breastbone drives on the lungs and the heart.
The root cause of funnel chest is unknown. It can be due to overgrowth of tissue linking the ribs to the breastbone. The abnormal tissue might push the breastbone inwards.
Funnel chest is likely to occur among males. The risk is high if there is a family history. Oftentimes, it can occur with certain health conditions such as:
- Scoliosis or curvature of the spine to the left or right
- Marfan syndrome which is a hereditary ailment that leads to the weakening of the tissues that provides support and strength to the body
- Mitral valve prolapse
What are the indications?
It is important to note that the chest curves inwards instead of outwards and appears sunken. Oftentimes, it is evident at birth. The chest indentation might worsen during the adolescent stage and remains the same throughout adulthood.
Aside from the depressed breastbone region, most do not have any symptoms. In severe cases, it can be accompanied by the following:
Management of funnel chest
If there are no symptoms present, treatment is not necessary. In case funnel chest is triggering issues with the lungs or heart, the doctor might suggest surgery.
The doctor might place metal supports within the chest to elevate the breastbone to its normal position. After 1-2 years, they are removed. Take note that surgery can help improve posture as well as allow the lungs and heart to function optimally.