The Hollow of the Chest

A sunken appearance in the chest is one of the hallmarks of the hollow of the chest, or pectus excavatum. This deformity of the anterior thoracic wall may develop after puberty or as a symptom of another condition. It impairs respiratory and cardiac function. This deformity is typically symmetric or asymmetric, and can cause pain in the chest, back, and ribs.

thoracic cavity

The thoracic cavity is located behind the breastbone. The chest cavity is lined with a serous membrane that exudes a thin fluid. The thoracic cavity contains the heart, lungs, and the tracheobronchial tree. The thoracic cavity is separated from the abdominal cavity by the diaphragm. The thoracic cavity contains the great arteries that bring blood from the heart into the circulation, as well as the major veins that collect blood.


The sternum is the hollow part of the chest that provides support to the ribs. However, it can be deformed in a number of ways, most notably due to a condition known as pectus excavatum. This condition is characterized by a sunken appearance to the chest wall and can impair respiratory and cardiac functions. The deformity often results in pain in the chest, back, or ribs.


The pericardium is the thin layer of serous tissue that surrounds the heart. It also covers the roots of the great blood vessels. During a beating heart, the pericardium produces a small amount of serous fluid that fills the pericardial cavity and coats the atria. Pericardial fluid helps protect the heart and minimize friction when it expands and contracts.

The esophagus is a muscular tube that travels through the chest, allowing food to be swallowed. Food passes down this tube as waves of muscle contractions called peristalsis force the food down. People usually do not realize that their digestive tract moves. The esophagus is the first part of the digestive system to move food down. It is located behind the aortic arch and lies at the level of T4 and T5 intervertebral discs.


The gladiola is a flowering plant with sword-shaped leaves and showy flowers on spikes. It belongs to the iris family and is native to Asia, Mediterranean Europe, and South Africa. Its common names include corn flag and sword lily. The gladiolus can grow in the hollow of the chest, where it is referred to as a “heart of stone.”

Haller index

The Haller index, also known as the pectus severity index, is a measurement of the deformity of the chest wall. It is the width of the chest divided by the distance from the sternum to the spine. A normal value for the Haller index is 2.54, and a lower number indicates a more severe deformity. This index is used to determine whether a person has pectus excavatum, a condition where the chest wall is hollow. To measure the Haller index, medical imaging procedures such as computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used.


Surgery for Hollow of the chest may be performed in two ways: traditional surgery and minimally invasive procedures. Traditional surgery involves making an incision across the chest and partially removing the breastbone. After this, a strut is placed behind the sternum to support it. A small metal bar is usually placed under the sternum to support it and is removed six to twelve months later. Minimally invasive surgery, or Nuss repair, uses a c-shaped strut that rotates to push the breastbone outwards. This type of surgery is not appropriate for older patients or children with more depression on one side of the chest.