Duke Health’s team of specialists cares for children and adolescents with pectus carinatum, a rare condition that causes the chest and ribs to protrude outward. Because the chest can have a birdlike appearance, pectus carinatum and is also called “pigeon breast.” The cosmetic condition is not dangerous, and can develop as your child grows. It’s not uncommon for it to appear during a growth spurt. Its appearance can impact your child’s self-esteem. 

Since pectus carinatum can worsen as your child grows, it’s important to treat it early. Children with pectus carinatum can also have scoliosis.

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Diagnosing Pectus Carinatum

Physical Examination

A health professional on our team will perform a physical exam to diagnose pectus carinatum and determine the appropriate next steps. In some people, one rib is sticking out. In others, multiple ribs may be affected, causing the side of the chest to protrude.

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Treating Pectus Carinatum

Bracing is the primary treatment for correcting pectus carinatum. Your child’s age and stage of development will determine when bracing should start. Younger children may tolerate wearing a brace and may be monitored over time until they mature. Older children may have grown past the point where bracing can help correct the condition, and may require additional evaluation for treatment recommendations.


If bracing is recommended, your child will see our orthotics specialist during the same visit. They will perform a physical exam to determine which type of brace will work best and ensure the child can tolerate wearing it for up to 23 hours a day for a determined time.

Standard and Custom Braces Available

Often, a lightweight brace that is easy to manipulate and grows with the child is recommended. It can be fitted to the child during a secondary visit. If the chest condition cannot be corrected with a standard brace, a custom brace may be ordered. In that case, your child’s measurements will be taken with a simple, computerized scan of your child’s body. This ensures the brace will apply pressure in the right spots and push the chest flat.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Follow-Up Care

Follow-up visits take place every few months to track progress.

Best Children's Hospital in NC

Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center is proud to be nationally ranked in 10 pediatric specialties.

This page was medically reviewed on 05/03/2024 by