Potential risk of sternal wires

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2004 May;25(5):812-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcts.2003.11.043.


Objective: To understand the potential fracture mechanism of sternal wires, we collected extracted stainless steel sternal wires from patients with sternal dehiscence following open-heart operations. Surface alterations and fractured ends of sternal wires were inspected and analyzed.

Methods: Eight fractured and 12 non-fractured wires extracted from five patients (closure method: figure-of-eight or straight twisted; two without and three with mediastinitis) with mean implantation interval of 13.2+/-4.2 days (range 8-20 days) were studied by various techniques. The extracted wires were cleaned and the fibrotic tissues were removed. Irregularities and fractured ends were assayed by scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDXA).

Results: All examined fractured wires showed the presence of severe transversal cracks and crevice corrosion. EDAX revealed aluminum oxide inclusion on the fractured surface.

Conclusions: The synergic effect of stress and poor wire quality could be the precursors of material failure for the sternal wire.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bone Wires / adverse effects*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures
  • Equipment Failure
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Radiography
  • Stainless Steel
  • Sternum / diagnostic imaging
  • Sternum / surgery*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / diagnostic imaging
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / etiology*
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / pathology
  • Suture Techniques


  • Stainless Steel