Providers fall short in caring for people with pectus excavatum, new study shows

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

A new research report published in the prestigious journal Chest calls attention to a major discrepancy between expectations and delivery of care for people with pectus excavatum.

Pectus excavatum is the most common anterior chest wall deformity, occurring in almost 1 in 500 individuals. Pectus excavatum can cause minor or sometimes severe cardiopulmonary symptoms. Related psychosocial complaints can include poor body image or self esteem due to cosmetic appearance. In moderate to severe cases, surgical correction may be necessary.

"People with this condition experience a multitude of symptoms but they often feel ignored by their providers," says author Robert Eisinger, an MD-PhD student at the University of Florida College of Medicine who leads the Facebook Pectus Awareness and Support Group. "I've heard countless stories from patients in our support group. This condition is actually quite common and yet we hear too often that medical providers commonly have very little to say on the matter when patients voice concerns."

Eisinger teamed up with Dr. Saleem Islam, MD, MPH, Division Chief of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Florida. They designed a questionnaire to quantify some of the issues that they have repeatedly heard, one patient at a time. "We needed to take this from a he-said she-said situation and formally study these problems to present them to the medical community," said Eisinger.