Chest bracing works wonders for teenage pectus carinatum patient
Feeling self-conscious about one’s appearance is almost a rite a passage for teenagers today, but for young people with pectus carinatum that anxiety can be considerably heightened. Pectus carinatum, also known as 'pigeon chest', is a congenital deformity of the anterior chest wall, which occurs when the breast bone is pushed outward by an abnormal overgrowth of cartilage, causing visible protrusion of the bone and, in some cases, other related symptoms, such as respiratory problems. It affects around one in 1,500 people and, although present at birth, often becomes more noticeable in early adolescence, when the ribcage and the rest of the body undergo growth spurts during puberty.
The Dynamic Chest Compressor applies pressure to the carinatum area of the chest
Recently we had a 14-year-old pectus patient who attended The London Orthotic Consultancy for treatment for his pectus carinatum inferior with rib flaring after only being offered surgical solutions on the NHS. While this is well-established method of treatment, it carries the associated complications of having a general anaesthetic, does not address the problem of the flaring of the ribs, and patients can be left with visible scarring.
“He was 14 at the time and was eager to find a non-surgical treatment option to improve the appearance of his chest wall,” says LOC clinician Sam Walmsley.” His age made him an ideal candidate for our non-surgical LOCpectus treatment, as the chest is more malleable in adolescents than adults, becoming stiffer as the skeleton matures, which can make results harder to achieve.
Profile view of chest before bracing treatment
This young man’s treatment involved wearing a bespoke brace, the Dynamic Chest Compressor, which applied constant pressure over the area of his chest that needed to be remodelled. Because pectus carinatum is caused by the chest protruding, we use a brace that fits over the apex of the chest to push it in – the dynamic chest compressor 1 – for the upper chest. In cases where the ribs protrude as well, such as in this instance, the lower dynamic chest compressor 2 is also required. As you push in the upper chest, the ribs tend to flare out, so we use this lower brace to push the ribs back in. In addition, he was given a programme of daily exercises to follow.”
Length of treatment varies depending on the age of the patient, the elasticity of the chest and the severity of the condition. “His treatment here at The London Orthotic Consultancy lasted a period of 15 months, however, he successfully achieved a flat chest after only six months [see before and after photographs which show significant improvement],” says Sam. “The remaining nine months consisted of night-time brace use only, in order to maintain the much-improved appearance throughout his growth spurts.”
(Top) patient before bracing treatment (below) results after bracing
This patient’s chest shape is now completely stable. “He was delighted with the outcome and continues to be happy with his chest shape,” says Sam.
Now 18, this young man feels confident in his appearance and credits the success of the LOCpectus treatment with his restored self-esteem. Like many others, the most compelling reason for seeking correction of his pectus carinatum was the negative self-image it caused. Research shows that the psychological repercussions of having such a condition often outweigh the physical discomfort, with many finding it difficult to interact with others. Both him and his parents agree that contacting The London Orthotic Consultancy was the best decision they ever made.
If you are considering LOC’s non-surgical treatment for pectus carinatum, contact us for a free initial consultation, with no obligation to proceed. During the consultation, one of LOC's clinicians will examine your chest and general posture, determine the structural type of pectus that you have and the correction possible with our LOCpectus treatment programme.
If the clinician believes that your chest shape will respond using the dynamic remodelling method and that you are willing to commit to the exercise programme, they will take a series of photographs and 3D scans of your chest shape.
Further appointments will be made for casting and fitting and you will need to attend the clinic for regular reviews (for overseas patients, reviews can be conducted via Skype). We would love to help you with your pectus worries.