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Muscle Defects


Simeon A. Boyadjiev Boyd

, MD, University of California, Davis

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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Babies can be born missing individual muscles or groups of muscles, or muscles can be incompletely developed.

Birth defects of the muscles can occur alone or as part of a syndrome.

The pectoralis major muscle (the major muscle in the chest, sometimes called the "pecs" in adults) can be partly developed or missing altogether. This defect can occur alone or with various hand, breast, or nipple abnormalities, as in Poland syndrome. The cause of most of these types of muscle disorders is unknown.

One or more layers of the abdominal muscles may be missing at birth, as in prune-belly syndrome. In this disorder, the missing layers of abdominal muscles cause the abdominal wall to have a wrinkled appearance, the testes do not descend into the scrotum (cryptorchidism) in boys, and/or urinary tract defects develop. The cause of prune-belly syndrome is not clear.

Before birth, doctors are sometimes able to diagnose these defects during an ultrasound.

After birth, doctors can identify the defects during a physical examination.

Treatment of Muscle Defects

  • Possibly surgery

Treatment of muscle defects depends on how severe the muscle defect is. The infant may need reconstructive surgery.

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