Chest Wall Deformities Program

Lurie Children’s Chest Wall Deformities Program offers comprehensive care for children with chest wall abnormalities such as pectus excavatum (sunken chest) and pectus carinatum (pigeon chest).

To make sure that our patients receive the most appropriate, safest and timeliest care possible, we develop individualized care plans for each of our patients and families.

What Is Pectus Excavatum?

Pectus excavatum, also known as sunken chest or funnel chest, occurs when an abnormal growth of cartilage within the chest wall pushes the sternum, or breast bone, and ribs inward, creating a caved-in or sunken appearance. Learn more about pectus excavatum.

What Is Pectus Carinatum?

Pectus carinatum, also known as pigeon chest, is when the cartilage grows up and out and forces the sternum forward. One or both sides of the chest can be affected. Learn more about pectus carinatum.

How Are These Conditions Diagnosed?

Because of the visual nature of these conditions, pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum can usually be initially diagnosed by a physical examination of the chest wall.

Once the condition is diagnosed, your primary care physician may suggest you meet with a pediatric surgeon and their team to discuss treatment options. The initial consultation appointment can be scheduled by calling 312.227.4210.

What Happens at the First Appointment?

Your first appointment will be a clinic consultation with an advanced practice nurse and a pediatric surgeon. A comprehensive past medical, surgical and family history will be taken at this visit, and a physical exam will also be completed. An in-depth description of the diagnosis and available treatment options will then be discussed.

What Happens Next?

After the initial visit, the surgeon may order a few tests to help build the treatment plan.

These are all outpatient tests and together their results will help define next steps.  All patients will not necessarily have all tests.

  1. Echocardiogram – this test is an ultrasound of the heart, which will assess for anatomical variables such as heart valve defects. It can be done at Lurie Children’s main hospital or any of Lurie Children’s outpatient centers.
  2. Pulmonary Function Testing – this will tell the medical team the strength of the patient’s lung capacity. This test is completed in the Pulmonary Diagnostics lab at Lurie Children’s main hospital.
  3. White Light Scan – this is an experimental imaging technique that does not use ionizing radiation. Instead, it is a scanning device using a white light projector to obtain 3D measurements of the chest wall. The surgeon and team will review the chest measurements that are garnered from the scan. The white light scanning device is utilized to monitor the progression of the chest wall deformity over time. This white light scan is done by the Orthotics teams at four locations: Lurie Children’s Outpatient Centers in NorthbrookLincoln ParkWestchester and the main hospital
  4. CT Scan – depending on the age of the child and the severity of the condition, the surgeon may also order a CT scan of the chest. In addition to the white light scan, if needed, this test will be used to measure the precise severity and depth of the sunken chest. This test is done at Lurie Children’s main hospital.

How Are Pectus Excavatum & Pectus Carinatum Treated?

All of the test results will be reviewed to determine the best course of treatment. Both surgical and non-surgical options will be evaluated. Learn more about pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum treatments.

Appointment Contact Information

Below is a list of medical departments and direct phone numbers to call to make your appointments, as needed:

Medical Area Test Phone Numbers

Cardiology Dept. 

Echocardiogram 312.227.4100

Orthotics Dept. 

White light scan or brace fitting 312.227.6210
Physical Therapy Dept.  Evaluation and treatment
1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®)

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Pulmonary Diagnostics Lab 

Pulmonary function testing 312.227.3745

Medical Imaging – CT

CT chest scan (if needed) ​312.227.4500

Pediatric Surgery

Once all tests are completed, you will see the Pediatric Surgery team again  312.227.4210


In addition, to make an appointment with one of our specialists, you can also call the general appointment line: 1.800.543.7362 (1.800 KIDS DOC).

Multidisciplinary Team

The Chest Wall Deformities Clinical program includes a surgical team that has a passion for caring for patients with chest wall anomalies and who will work with you on the best treatment options for your condition.

Pectus Surgery Specialists

Fizan Abdullah, MD, PhD, Vice Chair, Department of Surgery and Head, Division of Pediatric Surgery, joined Lurie Children’s in 2015 after spending a decade at Johns Hopkins Medicine as a pediatric surgeon, a physician-scientist and an educator. A leading authority in the fields of minimally invasive surgery and chest wall deformities, Dr. Abdullah also focuses on neonatal surgery, abdominal wall defect, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and esophageal and gastrointestinal anomalies, among others. His research interests include surgical outcomes, patient safety, access to care and quality of care.

Catherine Hunter, MD, a pediatric surgeon and physician-scientist, is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of chest-wall defects. She has a particular interest in thorascopic minimally invasive approaches to treat chest wall deformities, and her research focuses on chest wall deformity outcomes, among other areas. Dr. Hunter treats a variety of other pediatric and neonatal disorders including congenital anomalies of the lung, esophagus, diaphragm and intestines. Additional research interests include necrotizing enterocolitis and inflammatory bowel disease.


Marleta Reynolds, MD, Lurie Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief and Director of the Department of Surgery, is a pediatric surgeon and an expert on developmental anomalies of the lung, diaphragm, intestines and abdominal wall. She is a leader in the field of prenatal counseling for fetal anomalies, minimally invasive surgery, endocrine surgery, and pediatric cardio-thoracic and critical-care surgery. 



Suzanne Kujawa, RNC, MSN, CPNI-PC and Laurie Sands, RN, MSN, CPNP PC/AC, are advanced practice nurses who support our Chest Wall Deformities Program.  Both Suzanne and Laurie began working in the Division of Pediatric Surgery in 2009.




Orthotics Specialists

Lurie Children’s has one of the largest highly skilled teams of orthotists (brace-makers) in a freestanding children’s hospital in the Midwest. The team in the Orthotics and Prosthetics Department is onsite with a laboratory, and ready to create customized, state-of-the-art orthoses (braces) for your pre-teen or teenager.

Additional Specialties

Other members of the team include specialists from a variety of disciplines, including:

Together, this team works to provide coordinated care for your child before, during and after surgery.

Transforming Care through Research & Innovation

As part of our mission to transform pediatric care, our work doesn’t stop in the operating room. We study the underlying causes of the diseases we treat. We are also researching new ways to improve the safety and quality of care, making surgery safer and better for all children.

As part of an ongoing study, our physician-scientists have embarked on a new way to image chest wall deformities that reduces the need for radiation-based imaging. Learn more.

Our physician-scientists are also involved in the following studies:

Conditions We Treat

Philanthropy

Your support is vital in helping us continue to make a difference in the lives of patients and families. Lurie Children’s relies on philanthropic funding to enhance its programs, services and research for children. To learn more, please e-mail the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation at foundation@luriechildrens.org or call 312.227.7500