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Harrison's groove is a dip or crevice in the chest, many times noticed during early childhood. It is located in the area where the ribcage meets the diaphragm, just above the stomach. In some cases it can be indicative of an underlying health condition. Most times it indicates that the bones and muscles in that particular area are weakened.
Many times the presence of Harrison's groove, also called Harrison's sulcus, does not indication any type of problem. Some infants may be born with it and it may eventually close up with time as the muscles are strengthened. The crevice may not go away entirely, but it does not necessarily indicate any particular bone or muscular problems when it occurs in newborns. Doing sports or exercises which strengthen the chest wall may help to reduce its appearance over time.
In other cases Harrison's groove may appear when a child is older. This can be a sign of rickets, a rare disorder which primarily affects children. Rickets is a weakening of the bones caused by the body not being able to properly absorb and metabolize vitamin D. This leads to additional deficiencies in calcium and magnesium. It causes the bones to become brittle, and it can eventually lead to deformities in some individuals. The appearance of Harrison's groove is one potential symptom.
Rickets is relatively uncommon in most modern nations, although certain populations may still be at risk. Mothers who consume adequate vitamin D while pregnant may lower the risk in children. Some cases of rickets may show up later in life.
Harrison's groove is most common in those with chronic respiratory disease. Constant coughing and struggling to breathe associated with lung diseases like asthma or obstructive respiratory disease can eventually lead to a breakdown and weakening of the chest wall. If these conditions controlled through medication and other therapies, the groove may become less prominent over time. At other times it may grow worse.
Anyone who develops a crevice in the chest area should consult with a medical professional. Parents of infants with Harrison's groove should also see a doctor, although in most cases it will cause no problems in the child's development. Although uncommon, rickets may be ruled out upon doctor's examination. Those with chronic respiratory disease should follow all treatments outlined by their doctors in order to alleviate symptoms and prevent additional complications.