Can My Slipped 10th Rib Be Removed for Pain Relief?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I have bilateral slipping ribs at 10th level. My 10th rib has been slipping under the ninth and causing considerable pain for eighteen months. I am interested in a qualified plastic surgeon performing this procedure vs.a thoracic surgeon. I have yet to find a surgeon who has ever performed this procedure. Thank you for your time.

A: Thank you for your inquiry. When you refer to slipping of the 10th rib, you are likely referring to the cartilaginous end of the 10th rib where its distal end comes around to attach to the subcostal ribcage. That end of the rib is usually not fused to the ribcage and has some mobility in most people but that his usually asymptomatic. If it is excessively loose or mobile that can a rare source of pain in some people. That portion of the rib can be removed to eliminate the movement of that portion of the rib. I have performed that subtotal rib removal before as well as for other rib pain associated cases like the costo-iliac syndrome patient.

To determine of this or any other type of rib procedure would be beneficial, it would be helpful to see an actual drawing on your ribcage of where the exact location of your pain is so I have a clear anatomic understanding of it.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana