Pectus excavatum (funnel chest)

Pectus excavatum, or funnel chest, is the most common abnormality of the chest wall in children.

Your child’s sternum is pressed inwards and they will have a dip between their ribs. About 1 in 300-400 children will have it. It’s more common in boys.

Your child may need an X-ray or CAT scan to see whether their lungs are being squashed or compressed. They may also need breathing tests to see how well their lungs are working.

Mild cases do not need treatment. If your child’s funnel chest is more severe, they may need surgery. Most surgery is done to improve the appearance rather than for a medical reason.

If you have concerns or need advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

We'll take good care of your personal info and you can update the way we contact you at any time - check out our privacy policy at to find out more.

Last medically reviewed: September 2016. Due for review: September 2019

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.