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Pectus brace

What is pectus carinatum?

Pectus carinatum (also known as pigeon chest) is a condition in which the breastbone (sternum) of the chest sticks out. This happens because several ribs and the breastbone grow abnormally. Whilst a child is still growing this can be corrected with a pectus brace.

What is a pectus brace?

A pectus brace is a brace that wraps around the chest and applies pressure on the front of the chest that sticks out. The pressure from the pectus brace will push the breastbone back to a more normal position to correct the deformity.

How long is the treatment for pectus carinatum?

Most children will wear a pectus brace for around 9 months to a year, though some people may need to wear a brace for longer. The pectus brace can be removed for sports, washing, and other activities.


The best results are achieved if the brace is worn for 16 hours a day or longer and can be worn at night if it is tolerated.

At first, the pectus brace may feel uncomfortable so you should gradually increase wearing the brace using the following daily schedule, visually checking the skin regularly within the first few weeks.

Brace schedule

  • Week 1: 2 to 3 hours
  • Week 2: 4 to 8 hours
  • Week 3: 8 to 12 hours
  • Week 4: 12 to 16 or more hours

Following supply of the brace, your child will have an open appointment to contact Orthotics if any issues arise. Sometimes we may do review appointments to make any adjustments needed to make sure the chest position is being corrected in the best way. These review appointments may occur every 3 to 6 months to monitor the progress of correction. The referring consultant will decide when bracing treatment will end.

The outcome of treatment is different for each person depending on the severity, flexibility of the chest, age of the person and how much growth remains.

How to put on your pectus brace

  1. Wear an un-patterned cotton t-shirt or vest under your pectus brace to improve comfort of the brace and help protect the skin.
  2. Place the pectus brace around your chest and the shoulder straps, if you have them, on your shoulders.
  3. Make sure that the front pad is positioned over the part of the chest that is sticking out and adjust the shoulder straps, if you have them, to stop the brace dropping down.
  4. Tighten up the side straps evenly, as shown by the orthotist.

What about red marks?

  • With the pressure on the front of the chest, the pectus brace will leave red marks on the skin. I the skin is slightly red then the brace is probably working.
  • The red marks should disappear within 30 to 40 minutes of taking the brace off.
  • If you notice any sores or blistering, you should stop using the brace and contact your orthotist for advice as it may need adjusting.
  • Contact us if you feel the brace no longer fits or becomes uncomfortable so that we can arrange a review appointment.

Care of your pectus brace

  • If the pectus brace does become dirty, it can be cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth and mild soap.
  • Dry it with a towel or leave it to dry naturally.
  • The straps and padding may discolour with use, but this does not affect the function of the brace.
  • The brace can be repaired or replaced if necessary.

If you have any problems with your pectus brace, contact the Orthotic Department.

Contact us

Orthotic Department: 0114 271 7271

Monday to Friday: 8.30am to 4.30pm

Email: scn-tr.orthotics@nhs.net

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: ORT15

Resource Type: Article

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