Rib Removal

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested in rib removal surgery. I have a deformity on the bottom edge of my rib cage. It is on the front left side and it is about 2″ by 2″ in size. I was wondering if it would be a bad idea to have that deformity removed or to just leave it be. It does bother me functionally and causes mild pain on and off. The deformity is the result of a rib fracture (I believe chostochondral separation) that happened back seven years ago. It took a while for the deformity to develop but it seems to be permanent. Thank you.

A: With a history of trauma and a costochondral fracture/separation, what has happened is the development of excess cartilage/scar tissue at this bone-cartilage junction. This is the moveable part of the ribcage which is why it gives you some periodic discomfort. Whether you should have this area of the rib resected is a personal decision based on your level of both aesthetic and functional discomfort. Removal of the enlarged and protruding rib junction would be the treatment for it. Such small rib removal is done through a small incision directly over it.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana