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Pectus Carinatum: Bracing

What Is Pectus Carinatum?

Pectus carinatum is a condition in which the breastbone (sternum) of the chest juts out. This happens because several ribs and the breastbone grow abnormally. 

Health care providers sometimes suggest that kids who are still growing wear a brace to help correct pectus carinatum.

What Is a Pectus Carinatum Brace?

It's a lightweight brace that's custom-made for a child. It wraps around the chest and puts pressure on the front part of the chest that sticks out.

How Does a Pectus Carinatum Brace Work?

Similar to how braces realign teeth, a chest brace will push the breastbone back to a normal position. The health care provider will see your child regularly and adjust the pressure of the brace so it can work but still be comfortable.

How Long Do Kids Need to Wear the Brace?

Most kids will wear a brace for 6 months to a year, though some will need it for longer. They usually can remove it for sports, showering, and other activities, but usually must wear it for 12 hours a day or longer.

Help your child wear the brace exactly as recommended by your health care provider. This will help your child get the best results.

Are There Any Problems With Wearing a Brace?

Usually, wearing the brace causes no problems. Occasionally, the skin under it can get a little red and irritated. This usually goes away on its own.

Is Bracing Painful?

Some kids can have mild discomfort after having the brace pressure adjusted. If your child is uncomfortable, taking acetaminophen (such as Tylenol or a store brand) OR ibuprofen (such as Advil, Motrin, or a store brand) as directed usually can help.

How Can Parents Help?

Most kids do well with wearing their brace. But some kids struggle with it. Parents can work with their child to find ways to make it work. If a child feels embarrassed about wearing the brace, they can wear a baggy shirt or only wear it while sleeping.

It’s OK for kids to occasionally have "time off" for important events, like a dance or beach day. Some kids feel better about wearing the brace if they know they will get a reward at the end of the week, like going to a movie or being able to pick a special meal.

What Else Should I Know?

The care team is a resource for parents and kids. They can answer any questions and help kids get through the challenges of bracing and achieve the best result.

Reviewed by: Adela T. Casas-Melley, MD
Date Reviewed: May 10, 2023

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