Local News

Zebulon Youth Overcoming Funnel Chest

Posted August 6, 2001 8:08 a.m. EDT

— Imagine that you are in peak physical condition, and the next day, you can not even run around the yard. Sounds unbelievable, but it happened to a 14-year-old Zebulon boy. He was diagnosed with funnel chest, a condition where the chest actually begins to cave in.

Owen Hutchings has always been active. But two years ago, his chest started caving in, and he could not run or play for long without getting winded.

"After 20 minutes or so, he wouldn't be able to run around or kick the ball, and he'd have to take time out," said Owen's father, Steven Hutchings.

Owen has pectus excavatum, a condition also known as funnel chest. In this condition, the chest itself collapses for some reason, and no one really knows why.

Funnel chest is more common in boys. In most cases, the diagnosis comes at the worst possible time: puberty, a time when young boys are already self-conscious enough about their bodies.

That is why the Hutchings family decided Owen should have surgery to correct the problem.

Owen had surgery June 19 at WakeMed. During the procedure, surgeons made two small incisions in Owens' chest and used a tiny camera to navigate inside. Dr. Don Nakayama inserted a bar under the sternum to raise the chest and hold it in place.

Six weeks after the surgery, Owen does not mind showing off his new physique, and keeps the X-ray of the bar in his chest as a souvenir.

"I can't feel it anymore because my body has gotten used to it," he said.

He will start high school in a few weeks, and is ready to start playing sports again.

"I'm going to try out for soccer and track, but not football," Hutching laughed.

Hutching spent five days at WakeMed after the surgery, which is typical. The total recovery time, however, is about two years.