The Dynamic Compressor System brace and circumferential braces are two forms of non-surgical treatment for children whose chest walls bulge outward (known as pectus carinatum). Children wear the braces to achieve a typical chest shape, which reduces pain and helps them breathe.
Both types of braces are designed to wrap around the chest and apply pressure that, over time, reshapes the chest wall so that it doesn’t stick out. Circumferential braces are an off-the-shelf version of this product, while Dynamic Compressor System braces are custom-made for your child. Dynamic Compressor System braces also allow us to precisely set a specific amount of pressure and precisely adjust it over time, as your child’s chest shape changes. The brace you select for your child depends on the factors important to you such as the unique shape of their chest and insurance coverage.
Children with pectus carinatum may have labored breathing or may experience pain when lying on their stomachs or twisting and moving their upper body in certain ways. Both types of braces improve breathing and reduce pain by molding the chest wall into a typical shape. The Dynamic Compressor System brace can be especially helpful for patients whose chest wall bulges slightly to one or the other side rather than straight out in the center.
Research shows that children experience many personal and social benefits after correcting their chest wall. These include feeling happier and more confident, as well as doing better in school.
Both braces use pressure to move the chest wall, so it can take time for children to get used to them. In the beginning, children may experience pain, sores or bruising in areas of the skin that are squeezed by the braces. This is less likely to happen with the Dynamic Compressor System brace, because it is created based on your child’s individual chest measurements and we can monitor the pressures very precisely.
There are no risks to wearing either type of brace.
Medical literature shows that 85 percent of children who wear a brace successfully achieve their desired chest shape.
Your child can expect to wear a brace for six to 12 months. They can wear it over a lightweight shirt and under other layers of clothing. The braces have a low profile and are generally hidden by the outer layer of clothes. We’ll see your child in a series of appointments leading up to and including the time they wear the brace.
During your child’s first appointment, we will talk about their health history, perform a physical exam and take pictures of their chest shape. We can almost always diagnose their condition without doing X-rays or other imaging. Depending on your child’s condition, we may run tests on their heart and lungs.
We will also talk about your child’s chest wall and their options for treatment. You can take as long as you like to decide how you want to treat your child’s pectus carinatum. Some of our patients go home and think it over for weeks or months. Some decide during their first visit.
If you and your child decide on a circumferential brace, we can provide one immediately. If you opt for a Dynamic Compressor System brace, we will take your child’s measurements and place an order for the brace, which will be delivered in six to eight weeks.
Having good posture, muscle support and flexibility is very important for your child’s recovery, so we’ll give them a modest exercise plan to follow in the weeks ahead.
On the day your child receives their brace, they will have a one-hour fitting appointment. We will teach you and your child how to put their brace on and how to take care of it.
Your child will wear the brace every day during treatment, starting at one hour the first day and adding an hour every day for the first week. They will continue increasing their amount of time in the brace until eventually they wear it almost all the time. How quickly that happens will depend on your child’s progress and how comfortable they are in the brace. We work closely with you to set a schedule that works for you and your family.
The braces are only effective when they’re worn consistently. So, it’s important for your child to follow through with wearing theirs every day, for the number of hours that we recommend.
We will send your child home with information about breathing exercises. Practicing deep breaths throughout the day will help the brace make your child’s chest flatter and wider.
We generally see children once a month for the first few months that they wear their brace, to check on their comfort and progress and adjust the brace if we need to. From there, we can continue meeting regularly if your child still needs help adjusting to the brace. If everything is going well, or if you’re coming to us from far away and need to plan visits around school or other factors, we can space out your visits or even hold appointments over the phone.
The overall length of time that your child wears the brace will vary, depending on your child’s progress. Generally, our patients finish the treatment within six or 12 months.
How do I prepare my child for Dynamic Compressor System and circumferential braces?
We do a physical exam and take pictures during the initial appointment, so your child should dress comfortably and be prepared to take off their shirt. You will be with the child during the entire appointment. Girls are able to maintain modest covering of the chest during the entire exam and evaluation, and we have strict measures in place to safeguard the images and information we gather.
We recommend that your child eat before the fitting appointment. They will be on and off their feet and the appointment may take as long as an hour.
What questions should I ask my provider about Dynamic Compressor System and circumferential braces?
Your child’s condition will not change on its own. If your child wants to have a typical chest shape - or needs to have one, because of issues with their heart or lungs - they will need to be treated at some point. Treatment may consist of wearing a brace or having surgery, depending on your child’s condition.