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Is it possible to hear one's own heart beat in the ears with moderate pectus excavatum in 11 year old ?

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Cardiologist, Interventional
Practicing since : 1996
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Hello, my 11 year old son has moderate pectus excavatum on the left side. Lately he has been complaining about hearing his own heart beat "I can hear my heartbeat in my ears and it bugs me." When I checked his resting pulse it was at 126 BPM. I can see his heart pumping through his chest. He weighs 68lbs. Should I take him to a cardiologist? His pediatrician said she would be monitoring him every year. His last physical examination was in March. Is it possible that his condition has worsened?
Posted Tue, 8 May 2012 in Heart Rate and Rhythm Disorders
Answered by Dr. Raja Sekhar Varma 14 hours later

Thank you for your query.

Pectus excavatum refers to an abnormality where the front of the chest has a sunken appearance due to abnormal growth of the sternum and some ribs. The manifestations depend on the severity. Because of the reduced space inside the chest cavity due to pectus excavatum, the heart may be displaced or rotated to the left. This can lead to cardiac pulsations being visible from the outside. Per se, this is not abnormal. But, sometimes, this may be associated with changes in the structure of the mitral valve causing mitral valve prolapse. Sometimes, there may be changes in the pulmonary artery.

11 years is a time for growth. Many skeletal and muscular changes start occurring at this age.

An echocardiogram is required to study any possible structural and functional changes of the heart. An ECG will tell us about the rhythm, heart rate and any other variations. Chest Xrays and CT scans may be done to estimate the severity of the pectus excavatum. "There are indices like Haller index which are calculated to gauge the severity of the problem".

A resting pulse of 126/min is a little fast, though it could still be due to anxiety, stress, etc. If he is hearing his heartbeat "in his ears" and not just feeling it in the chest, it could be also be a case of wax in the ears or middle ear congestion or other similar ear complaints. Such possibilities can easily be verified by his pediatrician or an ENT specialist.

Since the boy has new symptoms, it would be wise to get him re-assessed by his pediatrician, and if she concurs, get further investigations done as outlined above.

I hope this answers your query. Feel free to contact me for any further clarifications that you may have.

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