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Korean J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2013 Aug;46(4):279-84. doi: 10.5090/kjtcs.2013.46.4.279. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

Titanium plate fixation for sternal dehiscence in major cardiac surgery.

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Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Korea.



Sternal dehiscence is one of the most troublesome complications following cardiac surgery. Treatment failure and consequent lethal outcomes are very common. The aim of this study was to evaluate titanium plate fixation as a treatment for sternal dehiscence following major cardiac surgery.


Between 2010 and 2012, 17 patients underwent sternal reconstruction using horizontal titanium plating for the treatment of post-cardiac-surgery sternal dehiscence. The plates were cut and shaped, and then were fixed to corresponding costal segments using 2-3 titanium screws per each side.


The median age of our patients was 66 years (range, 50 to 78 years) and 9 were female. Indications for sternal reconstruction included aseptic sternal dehiscence in 3 patients and osteomyelitis in 14 patients including 6 patients who were diagnosed with mediastinitis. During the operation, sternal resection and autologous flap interposition were combined in 11 patients. One patient died due to sepsis. Two patients required additional soft tissue wound revisions. Another patient presented with a tuberculous wound infection which was resolved using anti-tuberculosis medications. The postoperative course was uncomplicated in the other 13 patients.


Titanium plate fixation that combines appropriate debridement and flap interposition is very effective for the treatment of sternal dehiscence following major cardiac surgery.


Reoperation; Sternum; Wound dehiscence; Wound infection

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