Pectus Excavatum in Cats
The sternum, or chest bone, is a long flat bone located in the center of the thorax, and the costal cartilages are the cartilages that connect the chest bone with the ends of the ribs. In pectus excavatum, the sternum and costal cartilages are deformed, resulting in a horizontal narrowing of the chest, primarily on the posterior side. In appearance, the middle of the chest appear to be flat or concave, rather than slightly convex.
Symptoms and Types
- Difficult breathing
- Unable to perform routine exercise
- Increased depth of breathing
- Recurrent lung infections
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
- Failure to gain weight
There is a genetic predisposition in some cat breeds, but pectus excavatum can occur spontaneously in any breed. The condition may not be obvious until several weeks after birth unless it is a severe form.
You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your cat's health, any information you have of its parentage and genetic background, and the onset of symptoms. Routine laboratory tests will include complete blood tests, biochemical profiles, and a urinalysis.
Your veterinarian will conduct multiple x-rays of the thoracic cavity to confirm the diagnosis of pectus excavatum. These x-rays will reveal the actual deformities and related structural abnormalities. In some patients, the heart may be shifted from its normal place on the left side of the thoracic cavity. Abnormalities and concurrent diseases related to the respiratory system will also be visible on x-rays. Echocardiography (ECHO), a sonographic image of the heart, will be used to further evaluate the heart, its functioning ability, and possible cardiac defects.