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Can You Die From Pectus Carinatum?

Pectus carinatum is not a serious health condition but can produce troublesome symptoms in some children.1

Although a non-life-threatening condition yet in severe cases, the children may face shortness of breath, asthma, pain, fatigue, and a rapid heart rate.2,3

For most children and teens, the main issue with pectus carinatum is the way it looks however the outlook looks excellent when the child uses the brace.4

Can You Die From Pectus Carinatum?

Any type of surgery is associated with a risk such as bleeding, infections, and problem with anesthesia. Some of the risks associated with Nuss’s procedure include heart and lung damage post-surgery. Until recently, the Nuss process was primarily operated on children, who tend to respond better to the surgery due to more pliable chest walls.

Similarly, there is no evidence to show pectus excavatum can progressively damage the heart and lungs and limit life expectancy. However, pectus excavatum can affect lung and heart capacity, when the condition is severe resulting in irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and shortness of breath. A case presentation of a 59-year-old male who had problems with palpitations and shortness of breath after exercise.

The cardiologist and lung specialist identified that the patient experienced ventricular extra systoles and a paroxysmal nodal tachycardia through a routine echocardiogram. In the following years, the symptoms increased, and the patient became orthopneic.

Life expectancy is often reduced in cardiac patients due to the normal aging process and managing the difficulties associated with functional impairments associated with pectus abnormalities. Survival laboratory evaluation showed that pectus excavatum patients had a different survival than the controls.4

Are There Any Complications Involved With Pectus Carinatum?

Pectus carinatum occurs in one in 10 people with chest deformities however most people do not experience any symptoms. But when the condition occurs because of genetic disorders like Marfan syndrome or Noonan syndrome, it is often accompanied by a range of symptoms such as chest pain, fatigue, recurrent respiration illnesses, and breathing difficulty during physical exercises.

Clinical studies have shown that one of the 6 died in 1947 due to complications that arose during pectus repair. However, the studies also showed no patients died between the ages of 5 and 14 during the surgery.2,3

The severity of the malformation usually progresses during puberty. Although there are a variety of deformities, the most common types are pectus carinatum and pectus excavatum. The deformity is noticed in one in 1000 teenagers and is oligosymptomatic.

The condition primarily occurs in four different patient groups; however, clinical studies show that men have a higher incidence when compared to females.

Everything About Pectus Carinatum

Pectus carinatum also called pigeon chest is a non-serious, non-life-threatening health condition. It is the second most common chest abnormality that affects four times as many males as females. The deformity occurs when part of your child’s breastbone is pressed outwards or raised extended. Clinical studies show that incidence occurs during a rapid growth spurt when the children are between the ages of 10 and 13.

Pectus carinatum occurs in patients differently in different categories by pushing the breastbone forward either at the side, top or bottom so that it sticks out. Depending on the flexibility of the breastbone, it can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical.

We don’t the exact cause of the condition, but research shows that the possible cause is when there is an overgrowth to the tissues that connect the breastbone. In some instances, the bone growth occurs after open-heart surgery.1


  1. Meadows-Fernandez, A. Rochaun. “Everything You Should Know About Pectus Carinatum.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 3 Jan. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/pectus-carinatum
  2. Winkens, Ron, et al. “Pectus Excavatum, Not Always as Harmless as It Seems.” BMJ Case Reports, BMJ Publishing Group, 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3029481/.
  3. “A News Story’s Role in the Death of Son of Mothers Against Medical Error Founder.” HealthNewsReview.org, 24 Apr. 2018, www.healthnewsreview.org/2018/04/pectus-surgery-risks-even-after-young-patients-die-the-risky-surgical-nuss-procedure-continues-to-get-little-scrutiny-by-news-media/.
  4. “Home.” An Extensive Guide to Pectus Excavatum | Find Expert Advice, Can you die from pectus excavatum surgery? www.stephenmcculley.co.uk/resource-centre/causes-symptoms-surgery-pectus-excavatum/

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 27, 2021

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