Pectus carinatum may occur as a solitary abnormality or in association with other genetic disorders or syndromes.The condition causes the sternum to protrude, with a narrow depression along the sides of the chest. This gives the chest a bowed-out appearance similar to that of a pigeon.
People with pectus carinatum generally develop normal hearts and lungs, but the deformity may prevent these from functioning optimally. There is some evidence that pectus carinatum may prevent complete expiration of air from the lungs in children. These young people may have a decrease in stamina, even if they do not recognize it.
Apart from the possible physiologic consequences, pectus deformities can have a significant psychologic impact. Some children live happily with pectus carinatum. For others, though, the shape of the chest can damage their self-image and self-confidence, possibly disrupting connections with others.