Plate Fixation of Sternal Instability for Pain

Q: Dr. Eppley, After my 2nd open heart surgery my sternum never healed. It’s been almost 3 years since my surgery and I’m still in pain. I had my wires removed in 2017, that didn’t resolve my issues. Is the sternal plate rigid fixation something that could help me? My pain management doctor said he doesn’t think it’s nerve related.

A:The critical question is what is the source of pain. If the pain is a result of mobility between the two sternal segments, and a CT scan so demonstrates that such sternal non-union exists, then rigid sternal fixation would seem like a logical treatment choice. If there is no mobility then we would have to assume that it is more related to the overall trauma of the ‘chest splitting ‘ process for which there is no good treatment for it.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana