Why would external bracing be used?

While surgery is reserved for more severe cases, in milder cases of pectus carinatum, an external brace may be suggested to correct the chest deformity. Pectus carinatum is a deformity of the breastbone which causes it to protrude from the chest, giving it a bulge, also known as pigeon chest. External bracing is usually the preferred route for children who are still growing.

How does external bracing work?

External bracing works the same way that braces work for misaligned teeth. An external brace will be custom made for your chest. External bracing for pectus carinatum makes use of a lightweight brace that puts pressure on the front part of the chest and the breastbone that is bulging forward. The brace wraps around the chest and is worn 20 hours a day, placing constant pressure on the deformity to correct it. On a regular basis, Dr Schewitz will see you to adjust the brace and slowly tighten it as it corrects.

Children are usually advised to wear the brace for 20 ours a day but may remove it for showering, sports and swimming. How long the brace will be needed will depend on the severity of the deformity and the age of the child but may be anything from 6 months to a year.