Occult Rib Fractures and Brachial Plexus Injury Following Median Sternotomy for Open-Heart Operations

Clinton E. Baisden, Lloyd V. Greenwald, Panagiotis N. Symbas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The incidence and the sites of rib fractures during open-heart operations through a median sternotomy incision were studied in 36 consecutive patients divided into two groups. In Group 1 (24 patients), a conventional Ankeney retractor was used to expose the heart, and in Group 2 (12 patients), a similar retractor was used but with its uppermost pair of blades removed. Thorough physical examinations and preoperative and postoperative chest roentgenograms were obtained, and postoperative bone scans were done in all patients. No rib fractures were detected on the routine chest roentgenograms in patients in either group. Bone scans, however, showed 44 rib fractures (15 of the first rib, 13 of the second rib, 4 of the third rib, 6 of the fourth rib, 3 of the fifth rib, and 3 of the sixth rib) in 16 patients in Group 1. Six patients in Group 2 had 9 rib fractures (2 of the first rib, 4 of the second rib, and 1 each of the third, fifth, and sixth ribs). None of the patients in Group 2 had brachial plexus injury and neither of the first rib fractures in this group were located posteriorly, whereas 3 patients in Group 1 had both brachial plexus injury and posterior first rib fractures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-194
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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