Discovering My Son Has Pectus Carinatum

I had never heard the term Pectus Carinatum before until the doctor told us our son Jake had it. It was a complete shock to us. He was maybe 12 at time. And at the time, we as parents had no idea what it meant for our child having Pectus Carinatum or how it would affect his health. 

I remember the day clearly. Jake came downstairs around 10:30 pm and said he couldn’t sleep. He said his chest was hurting. I immediately excused this as growing pains because well, you know boys at this age. Their bones feel like rubber some days and like rocks the next. Pain and aches are a part of puberty. Then, I noticed a lump on my son’s chest. It wasn’t a large lump, but it kind of stuck out, almost making his chest look like that of a pigeon. I asked him if he got hurt or fell and thought perhaps he’d injured himself somehow. 

The next day, I scheduled an appointment with our doctor. She ordered a CT scan for Jake. That’s when I saw the word Pectus Excavatum which later after looking it up online is a Latin word meaning (hollow chest).

Pectus Excavatum when the chest turns inwards

Pectus Excavatum: When the chest curves inwards due to the sternum being pushed back toward the spine creating a hollow effect. Many stars have Pectus Excavatum such as, Jeff Goldblum, Chris Evans and even Paula Abdul. 

You can imagine as a parent, I felt frustrated. My son did not have this. His chest was protruding out not going in. So, I had no idea what was really going on and had to wait for the test results. That’s when I came across another chest deformity called Pectus Carinatum, also known as (pigeon chest) caused by a protrusion of the sternum and ribs. 

This is a photo of how Pectus Carinatum looks

It turned out that my doctor was wrong and the CT scan did indeed show my son having Pectus Carinatum. How did he get it? He was born with it, although no signs were present at his birth. Pectus Carinatum is genetic, and it was later confirmed by my mom that her brother had it growing up as a teen. 

So what does it mean for your child to have Pectus Carinatum? Well for Jake it meant keeping an eye on his chest growth through puberty. Getting him checked once a year as those with Pectus Carinatum can develop trouble with their spine, and monitoring his breathing. 

Other than that. Pectus Carinatum is more cosmetic than anything, and your child should be made to feel to embrace their imperfections and that their body is just what it should be. Jake still played hockey and football. He was careful and wore protective gear, and he works out a lot, as this helps improve the appearance of his chest and lessen the severity of the bone sticking out. 

Jake is almost eighteen now. Having Pectus Carinatum isn’t something that has affected his confidence because he didn’t let it. When people ask about the bone on his left side sticking out a little from his chest. He tells them. He’s not afraid to show anyone or talk about it. He knows who he is. What kind of person he is, and that having a physical deformity doesn’t make or break who you become in life.  
We are blessed with the bodies that God gave to us. I am what I am. Nothing more. Nothing less. If someone doesn’t like that. That’s too bad. I’m just me. – Jake 
He’s right. I have bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. My husband has a brain injury. Jake’s brother has mild cerebral palsy and sensory processing disorder and bipolar disorder. We all have imperfections and challenges to deal with day to day, but they don’t define us. 

What is something you deal with on a day to day basis? Share it with me below. I’m always here to listen. 


  1. Jin January 5, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Oh!? My chest also sticks out. I'm 14 and I want a solution… It is so embarrassing. When I'm on side view i look at the mirror and it looks like boobs. I have female hands, female body.. but I'm a boy.. It looks like I have a female build.

    1. JP Shaw - Site Author January 5, 2010 at 8:05 am

      Oh sweetheart I know it's hard but there are solutions. Check with your doctor because you can get a wrap to wear to help the bone form properly and put it back into place. It will help your confidence as well and you should also talk to someone about how you feel about your appearance. Remember you are who you are and worth loving.

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