How does one know does he suffer from pectus excavatum or not? Many people after reading up the symptoms online, immediately look at their chest and start finding flaws (although the dent is just the most obvious symptom from a much more complex problem). Some see a small dent and start asking questions like “do i have pectus or no?”.
Well, in order to distinguish between the various levels of the deformity, a measurement unit has been made. It is called Haller Index and anyone who is somehow involved with this deformity should know about it.
What is Haller Index ?
Haller index is a measurement made to calculate the extent of the pectus deformity. It is calculated after going under a CT scan. The way it is calculated is by taking the maximum vertical length of the dent and the maximum point of separation between the rib cage.
If some patient decides to try to fix his sunken chest surgically, then a CT scan determining the Haller index is a required procedure. But also, if someone is not sure whether or not he belongs somewhere in the pectus spectrum, then he can voluntaruly measure his Haller index and compare the results.
What is the normal Haller Index ?
Not all forms of pectus excavatum require surgery. Mild and moderate cases can be greatly helped with exercises. On the other had for severe cases, complete cosmetic transformation can be only achieved with surgery (plus exercises after). The deepth of the deformity has three levels:
- Normal chest (Haller index = 2.5)
- Mild case (Haller index = 2.5 – 3 )
- Moderate case (Haller index = 3 – 3.5)
- Severe case ( Haller index > 3.5)
If you find yourself in the second or third row, take a look at our exercise page and try to incorporate some exercises into you daily routine. The exercises are proven to improve the condition for up to 90%. If you are in the severe group and you feel like the condition is a great trouble in your life, take a look at some at some of the surgical options. There is no shame in wanting to reach out for a medical intervention if you yourself can do nothing about it.
Why you should worry about Haller index if you want to get surgery coverage
Pectus surgery can be quite expensive, depending on the location, surgeon and the treatment you are getting. Most patients who have desires to undergo some kind of procedure are usually denied from their massive price tags. Of course, if you can’t pay for the operation, you will try to get it covered by the insurance companies. It is only the most logical step. But here is where the haller index gets very significant. Insurance companies use the index merely as a mean to try and deny covering the surgery. The problem with pectus excavatum is that, unfortunately and not so correctly, it is considered just a cosmetic deformity and we know cosmetic surgeries are not covered by the companies. In spite of all the facts confirming that pectus excavatum effects on all areas of life, for one reason or another it still stands under the cosmetic repair department. Insurance companies are known to use the Haller index as a main dismising point of pectus excavatum cases.