Pectus Excavatum presents as a deformity of the sternum inwards (i.e., funnel chest) and is usually easily noticed by visual inspection. The severity of the Pectus varies widely among patients. Severity is normally defined by the Haller index, which is the ratio of the width of your chest to the distance between the deepest part of the sternum depression and the back. It is common for patients with Pectus to be tall, thin, and often times Marfan's syndrome is present.
In women, Pectus may be more difficult to distinguish, as it may be hidden by breast cleavage.
Pectus is normally identified early on, but many patients do not notice the sternum deformity until the early to late teenage years when height changes more dramatically. Here is a simple checklist to help you determine if you should follow up with a Primary Care Doctor for further questions:
- Do you have a noticeable depression in your chest?
- Do you have immediately or distant family members with noticeable depressions in their chests?
- Are you tall and thin?
- Do you have long fingers, jaw pain, back pain, scoliosis, or abnormal vision?
- Are you aware that you have mitral valve prolapse or decreased lung capacity?
Feel free to post questions. I am a Pectus Excavatum patient myself, and would be happy to help.