Sternal plating for the treatment of sternal nonunion.
BACKGROUND: Sternal nonunion, defined as sternal pain with clicking, instability, or both for more than 6 months in the absence of infection, is an uncommon complication of median sternotomy. Nonunion is frequently complicated by the presence of multiple transverse fractures, which make simple rewiring inadequate. METHODS: Six patients with debilitating pain secondary to sternal nonunion were treated with the technique of sternal plating between 1989 and 1995. RESULTS: Sternal plating corrected sternal instability and provided excellent pain relief in all 6 patients. All patients reported an improved quality of life and were able to resume recreational activities. Two patients have had plate removal for late bursa formation. Sternal healing was complete in both instances. CONCLUSIONS: Sternal plating, which is based on the tension-band principle, is an effective treatment of sternal nonunion. The technique is applicable to both simple and complex nonunions. The stainless steel plates resist bending stresses, and the cortical bone resists compressive forces. The technique requires minimal dissection of the posterior sternal border, is not circumferential, and provides secure sternal approximation.
Hendrickson, SC; Koger, KE; Morea, CJ; Aponte, RL; Smith, PK; Levin, LS
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