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Chest Wall Disorder: Poland Syndrome

What Is Poland Syndrome?

Poland syndrome is a condition where a child is born with missing or underdeveloped chest muscles. The shoulder, arm, and hand also can be involved. Usually only one side of the body is affected.

What Causes Poland Syndrome?

The cause of Poland syndrome is unknown. It may be from a blockage of blood flow to the chest, shoulder, arm, and hand muscles while a baby is developing in the womb.

Who Gets Poland Syndrome?

Most of the time, Poland syndrome happens sporadically. This means it's not inherited from a parent. It is more common in males than females.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Poland Syndrome?

Sometimes, Poland syndrome is barely noticeable. In other cases, it can be quite severe. The condition can be seen at birth or not noticed until puberty.

Signs of Poland syndrome include:

  • missing or underdeveloped chest and shoulder muscles
  • abnormal ribs that sometimes can lead to breathing problems
  • breast or nipple abnormalities
  • missing or abnormally placed underarm hair
  • hand abnormalities such as short or fused fingers
  • shortened forearm bones
  • heart, lung, or kidney problems

How Is Poland Syndrome Diagnosed?

Health care providers diagnose Poland syndrome based on a physical exam. If needed, they might also order tests such as:

How Is Poland Syndrome Treated?

Treatment for Poland syndrome usually is based on how severe it is. It may include:

  • implants or injections to fill out the underdeveloped chest area
  • hand surgery to create the most useful hand
  • surgery on the ribs to help with breathing problems

What Else Should I Know?

Mild Poland syndrome usually does not need treatment. But when the condition is very noticeable or causes other problems, treatment may help and can improve a child's physical and emotional well-being.

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

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