Poland Syndrome

Poland Syndrome is the name given to an affliction accompanied by a deficiency in fat and muscles on one side of the ribcage. It may also entail underdevelopment in the adjacent upper arm, hands and fingers. Other afflictions may manifest in conjunction with it, such as the Moebius and Kloppel-Feil syndromes. Poland Syndrome manifests on the right hand side of the ribcage twice as frequently as on the left hand side. The affliction is much more common amongst men than amongst women.

The affliction is named after Sir Alfred Poland, an English surgeon, who was the first to observe and record the syndrome in 1841.

ανισομαστια συνδρομο poland

Cause of Poland Syndrome

Poland Syndrome is likely caused by the prevention of blood flow into the subclavian artery during the sixth week of gestation. The reduced flow of blood directly leads to reduced development in the ribcage and the adjacent upper limb. When an artery closer to the heart is blocked, the syndrome may manifest through much more pronounced symptoms. When arteries in different areas throughout the body become blocked, this can result in similar afflictions, such as the Klippel-Feil and Moebius syndromes.



Symptoms may differ from patient to patient. The affliction results in only minimal invalidity or dysfunctionality. For this reason, many patients only seek medical attention at an advanced age. The affliction does not damage intellectual ability.


The symptoms can be divided into two main categories:

1) Muscular: Certain pectoral muscles are affected, and may even be entirely absent – in particular parts of the pectoralis major muscle, as well as the entire pectoralis minor.

2) Mammary: The breast and nipple are insufficiently developed.


Aside from the aforementioned symptoms, patients may also exhibit the following:

1) Neighbouring muscles may be absent, such as the serratus anterior, which reaches the sides, as well as back muscles such as the latissimus dorsi.

2) Some of the obliques may be asent.

3) The scapula or shoulderblade may be smaller and at a higher position than is usual (also known as Sprengel’s deformity).

4) The upper arm and hand may be underdeveloped.

5) Fingers could be shorter,

6) Patches of body hair may be absent from the upper arm.


X-ray scans of the ribcage and axonic tomography can aid in the diagnosis. The aforementioned symptoms may appear in a lighter or heavier form. Patients with lighter symptoms usually do not approach a doctor, and as such remain undiagnosed. 

Poland Syndrome Treatment

Treatment is determined by the extent of the problem. For light cases of Polan Syndrome, breast augmentation and the placement of an artificial nipple are usually sufficient to correct the problem. This treatment follows the exact same procedure of augmenting the breast as when augmenting underdeveloped breasts. In addition to the silicone insets available for women, further insets, in the shape of the male chest, can be used by male patients. In other cases, fat implants can cosmetically improve the affected area considerably.

The artificial nipple is usually a tattoo.

When there is a muscular deficiency the plastic surgeon may transfer muscles from the other, healthier side of the ribcage, or from any other area of the body. Artificial sides may also be used.

In males, this corrective surgery can be performed up to the age of thirteen. In contrast, female patients will have to wait until their breasts have fully developed.

As far as afflicted fingers are concerned, these can be reconstructed through various methods – alternatively, fused fingers may be divided (syndactyly).

Improving the appearance of a Poland Syndrome patient can do wonders for their psyche, and restore them to social and personal functions which they may have been prevented from engaging with until then.