Outcomes After Operative Reconstruction of Symptomatic Rib Nonunions

Temi D. Ogunleye, Daniel A. Carlson, Claire N Thomas, Lisa K Schroder, Peter A. Cole

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OBJECTIVE: To assess the outcomes of patients after rib nonunion reconstruction. DESIGN: Retrospective case series. SETTING: Level 1 trauma center. PATIENTS/PARTICIPANTS: Between January 2007 and August 2019, 25 consecutive patients with 51 nonunions with disabling pain or chronic instability were treated for nonunited rib fractures. INTERVENTION: Rib nonunion reconstructions performed using plate and screw fixation, recannalizing the medullary canal and augmented with autogenous iliac crest bone graft. MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS: Patient demographics, mechanism of injury, number of rib nonunions, and postoperative radiographs were assessed. Satisfaction, patient-reported complications, return to occupation and activity, and general health measures were captured using patient questionnaires. RESULTS: In 25 patients, 51 painful rib nonunions were surgically treated. The average length from injury to surgical rib reconstruction was 25.1 months (range = 3-118 months; median = 12 months). Follow-up was obtained in 18 of 25 patients (72%) with a mean of 46.1 months (range = 13-139 months). All ribs achieved radiographic union at an average of 12.3 weeks (range = 8-24 weeks) after surgery. Sixteen of 18 patients (89%) reported satisfaction with surgery and 15 patients (83%) reported mild to no pain at final follow-up. Five patients had complications that all resolved after subsequent treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Successful treatment of symptomatic rib nonunion is possible using rib plates in conjunction with bone grafting and has high union rates, satisfactory results, and limited complications. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e161-e166
JournalJournal of orthopaedic trauma
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2022

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