Living with Pectus Excavatum: Meet Our Patients and Their Families

Pediatric Surgery

Living with Pectus Excavatum: Meet Our Patients and Their Families

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(608) 263-6420


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Before and During Surgery

After Surgery

Pectus excavatum is the most common congenital abnormality of the chest in children. It can present as a mild depression of the sternum (breastbone) to a very deep depression, where the sternum nearly touches the spine. Abnormal growth of the rib cartilage causes the breastbone to be pushed inward. This depression in the breastbone may be symmetrical (even), or it may be more inward on one side than the other. The breastbone may be straight or rotated.

Patients with a moderate to severe chest depression or significant symptoms may require a minimally-invasive operation. Two patients - Zach and Alex - and their parents share their experiences with undergoing the surgical treatment.

Meet Zach and his Parents

Around freshman year of high school, Zach began experiencing chest pain and a shortness of breath. He wondered if it might be due to the indentation in his chest. When he decided to seek treatment, physicians recommended a surgical bar to help re-shape the chest. Zach shares what the treatment was actually like and the positive effects it has had on his life.


Surgery can be a stressful experience. Zach's parents Nikki and Brian share their advice for parents whose children may be getting ready to undergo treatment for pectus excavatum.


Meet Alex and his Mom

From as young as he can remember, Alex has had a "hole" in his chest. Eventually, it began to affect his ability to be physically active. Alex's doctor recommended he seek treatment at American Family Children's Hospital for pectus excavatum. At the Children's Hospital, the Pediatric Surgery team recommended a minimally-invasive procedure that involved placing a stainless steel bar across the front of the chest, under the breastbone. Alex shares his experience undergoing the procedure and the recovery that followed.

Alex and his family live a few hours away from American Family Children's Hospital. While the distance did create certain challenges, the supportive team and environment at the hospital helped make Alex's treatment go as smoothly as possible. She shares her perspective on the treatment Alex received and offers her advice to parents considering the treatment for their child.