What is asternia?

Asternia , also known as a complete congenital sternal cleft, is a condition in which a bone called the sternum does not form properly. The sternum usually connects to the ribs to form the ribcage. Individuals with asternia are missing this bone and may appear to have a rut or trench under the skin in the middle of the chest. Most individuals with asternia have no symptoms, though some may have difficulty breathing. Asternia is sometimes associated with other conditions, such as heart problems. The cause of asternia is currently unknown. Treatment consists of surgery to close the gap between the ribs.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might asternia be treated?

Asternia is treated with surgery. Surgery may be recommended to prevent breathing difficulty and to protect the organs in the chest, particularly the heart. The type of surgery depends on the size of the gap between the ribs and the age of the affected individual. Ideally, surgery consists of closing the gap by connecting the existing bones of the chest; this is best done while the affected individual is very young. For older individuals or those with a wide space between the existing bones, surgery may include placing extra material (a prosthesis, made of cartilage or bone from another part of the body or synthetic/man-made materials) to fill the gap.

Last updated on 05-01-20

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The RareGuru disease database is regularly updated using data generously provided by GARD, the United States Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center.

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