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Definition of Pectus excavatum

Pectus excavatum: Caved-in or funnel chest. The Latin "pectus" means "chest." The chest is excavated. It looks as if it has been dug or hollowed out. A congenital malformation of the chest wall characterized by a funnel-shaped depression with its apex over the lower end of the sternum. It is caused by shortening of the central portion of the diaphragm, which pulls the sternum backward during inhalation. Except in mild cases, it interferes with sustained exercise, delays upper respiratory infection recover, reduces the ability to eat a full meal, and may produce a functional heart murmur

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=4811
Last Editorial Review: 10/30/2013

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