Pectus excavatum (PE) is a deformity of the sternum that ranges from mild to severe. The chest caves inwards in the center (place a ball on something like a pillow and you'll see what it looks like). Two common names are "funnel chest" and "sunken chest". The result will range from cosmetic problems for mild cases to smaller lung capacity and problems with heart displacement for severe cases. Scoliosis is common among all cases. Approximately 1 in 500 people have PE, and it is more common in males. It is something that can be inherited.

The cause of PE varies from person to person, but here is a list of conditions that have been associated with it:

There are three known ways of correcting PE: the Ravitch, Nuss, and Leonard procedure. For mild cases, certain exercises and better posture have been known to help. Some correction methods are easier to do when younger because the bones will be softer.

I'm surprised by how few people know about this deformity, even though it's not that rare. My childhood doctor didn't even know what it was. Many doctors are known to tell patients to just shrug it off because they think it's only a cosmetic problem. That's not a very good thing to do because it can get worse with age and make treating it more difficult.