An assessment of outcomes with intramedullary fixation of fractured ribs

Silvana Marasco, Margaret Quayle, Robyn Summerhayes, Ilija D Šutalo, Petar Liovic

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Surgical management of fractured ribs with internal fixation is an increasingly accepted therapy. Concurrently, specific rib fixation prostheses are being developed which should improve results and minimise hardware and rib/splint construct failures. The Synthes titanium intramedullary splint lends itself to difficult to access areas such as posterior rib fractures and fractures under the scapula. We analyse a case series of patients in whom this rib fixation prosthesis has been used. Methods: Fifteen patients received 35 intramedullary splints. Follow up at 3 and 6 months was performed with three dimensional computed tomography scanning to assess for bone alignment, callus formation and healing, residual deformity, hardware failure or cut through. Computerized finite element analysis (FEA) was used to model forces acting on a posterior fracture with and without an intramedullary fixation splint in situ. Results: Complete healing (bony union) was noted in only 3 (9 %) of the fractures fixed with splints by 3 months. Partial healing (cartilaginous union) was noted in 28 of the 33 fractures (85 %), and non healing was noted in only 2 (6 %). In both those two patients, failure at the rib / splint interface was noted after both patients reported sneezing. No hardware failures were noted. By 6 months the fractures which had shown partial healing, had all completely healed. There were no late failures (between 3 and 6 months) of either hardware or rib/splint interfaces. FEA modelling identified sites of increased stress in the rib at the rib / splint interface and in a modelled intramedullary splint where it spans the fracture. Conclusions: Further analysis of outcomes with intramedullary splints is warranted as well as further development of intramedullary rib fixation solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2016


  • FEA modelling
  • Intramedullary
  • Rib fixation
  • Rib fracture

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