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Laryngorhinootologie. 2000 Mar;79(3):155-9.

[Autologous rib cartilage harvesting: operative procedure and postoperative pain reduction].

[Article in German]

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Hals-Nasen-Ohrenkranke, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.



In reconstructive surgery there is a growing demand for cartilage grafts. For small amounts of autologous tissue, cartilage from the nasal septum or ear concha is a sufficient and reliable tissue, but in cases of extensive defects or higher mechanical load autologous rib cartilage is a commonly used transplant. Nevertheless, a serious donor-site morbidity, especially postoperative pain, has to be taken into consideration. We present a modified technique for harvesting rib cartilage with a consecutive local pain therapy.


In contrast to the commonly used incision through all layers of tissue the described technique follows the anatomical structures of skin tension-lines, the fascial and muscle fibers and tissue sliding-planes. Starting with a transversal skin incisions 1.5 cm above the costal arch, longitudinal splitting of the rectus abdominis fascia and muscle, the rib cartilage of the ribs 6 to 8 can be exposed. Grafts in the size of at least 3 to 8 cm can be harvested under preservation of the perichondrium. This technique causes a high degree of stability and good function of the abdominal wall. POSTOPERATIVE PAIN THERAPY: After harvesting rib cartilage most patients complain about extensive postoperative pain. For adequate treatment the local application of a long-lasting anesthetic substance close to the intercostal nerves is helpful. The introduction of a peridural catheter opens the feasibility of continuously applying a local anesthetic for 3 to 4 days directly into the donor-site. This procedure reduces the need for general anesthetics dramatically and prevents further complications.


This modified technique for harvesting rib cartilage diminishes the donor-site morbidity by reducing the risk of pneumothorax, hernias and functional deficits. Moreover, the local pain therapy assures postoperative wellness and mobility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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