New technique to treat condition called funnel chest, or pectus excavatum

Children and teenagers who suffer from a condition called funnel chest, or pectus excavatum, in which the chest wall becomes caved-in, now have a safe, effective and simpler surgical alternative to correct the condition, according to an article in a recent issue of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

“The new technique reconstructs the chest wall in one operation by using plastic mesh bands instead of a metal plate with a body brace,” said Jeffrey Gold, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Montefiore Medical Center and senior author of the article. “And, the bands do not have to be removed, because the body heals around them.”

The standard treatment for funnel chest involves wearing an uncomfortable body brace and undergoing two surgical procedures -- one to remove extra cartilage in the rib cage and to insert a metal plate behind the sternum, and another, later on, to remove the plate.

Dr. Gold, who has used the breakthrough technique over the past decade, says it has successfully corrected the sunken chest of all 52 patients he treated and has been “extremely well accepted by patients and families.” The patients included 32 females and 20 males who ranged in age from 4 to 39 years.

Patients with pectus excavatum frequently have difficulty with exercise and have associated medical problems. This was the case with Dr. Gold’s patients, 6 of whom had cardiac problems and 22 of whom had associated pulmonary problems, such as asthma – all of which were also treated. Twelve of the patients had Marfans, a connective tissue disorder.

Funnel chest is caused by excessive growth of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone. The excess cartilage forces the ribs to curve in a manner that pushes the breastbone, or sternum, inward. To correct the problem surgically, the excess cartilage is removed. Then, using the plastic mesh bands, the straightened ribs and breastbone are brought together in a ways that pushes the sternum out.

Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, ranks among the top one percent of all US hospitals based on its investments in medical innovation and cutting-edge technology.

Montefiore invests more in order to enable compassionate, personalized care and the most positive outcomes for patients and their families in New York, the tri-state area and beyond.

Montefiore’s unique combination of ‘state-of-the-art’ technology with ‘state-of-the-heart’ medical and nursing care in a teaching and research environment provides patients with access to world-class medical experts, the newest and most innovative treatments and the best medical center experience anywhere.

This 1,062 bed medical center includes the Henry and Lucy Moses Division, the Jack D. Weiler Hospital and The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, a large home healthcare agency and a 21-site medical group practice located throughout the Bronx and nearby Westchester.

Montefiore treats all major illnesses and has distinguished centers of excellence in cardiology and cardiac surgery, cancer care, tissue and organ transplantation, children's health, women's health, surgery and the surgical subspecialties. Montefiore Medical Center focuses on providing family-centered healthcare in a nurturing environment that extends well beyond hospital and clinic walls.


  1. Casey Casey United States says:

    I have a funnel chest, it's not that bad, it's not as bad like some peoples pictures, but I can't run very long distance without shortness of breath.

    Whenever I go swimming with my friends i'm very self concious. Some people even make fun of me. I pretend like it doesn't faze me but it does.

    I've just turned 17 and I think I want the surgery. I haven't even talked to my parents about this and how I feel about it.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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