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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Other Names for this Disease
  • Absent sternum
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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.[1]
Last updated: 2/13/2013


  1. Torre M, Rapuzzi G, Carlucci M, Pio L, Jasonni V. Phenotypic spectrum and management of sternal cleft: literature review and presentation of a new series. European Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery. 2012; 41:4-9. Accessed 2/12/2013.
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In Depth Information

  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Asternia. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.