What is pectus carinatum?

Pectus carinatum is a condition in which the sternum (breastbone) protrudes, or sticks out, more than usual. It is the opposite of pectus excavatum, in which the breastbone is depressed inward and gives the chest a sunken appearance.

Who is affected by pectus carinatum?

Pectus carinatum is more common in boys. Although babies are born with the condition, it is often not noticed until the child reaches puberty (teen years).

What causes pectus carinatum?

Although the exact causes of pectus carinatum are not known, it is believed to be a disorder of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone.

Pectus carinatum can sometimes be heredity (runs in the family). In some patients, pectus carinatum may be associated with Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that has the following symptoms:

  • Long limbs and fingers
  • Chest abnormalities
  • Curvature of the spine
  • Certain facial features
  • Specific changes in the heart valves and aorta; and,
  • Displacement (movement) of the lenses of the eyes.

What are the symptoms of pectus carinatum?

Symptoms may be more severe for some patients than for others, and may include any of the following:

  • Fatigue (feeling tired and weak)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Tachycardia (fast heart rate)

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/21/2019.


  • American Pediatric Surgical Association. Pectus Carinatum. Accessed 1/22/2019.
  • National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences/Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Pectus carinatum. Accessed 1/22/2019.
  • Desmarais TJ, Keller MS. Pectus carinatum. Curr Opin Pediatr 2013 Jun;25(3):375-81. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e3283604088.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy