Background: A variety of operative techniques have been described in the past for the surgical stabilization of fractured ribs.
Methods: From February 2004 to November 2008, consecutive patients who underwent open reduction and internal fixation of traumatic fractured ribs during their index admission using the Inion orthopedic trauma plating system (OTPS) at a Level I trauma center were retrospectively analyzed. Demographics, Injury Severity Scores, number and site of rib fractures, operative details, and complications were recorded. All patients were followed-up with a questionnaire assessing chest symptoms, disability, and quality of life.
Results: Thirty-two patients underwent surgical stabilization with Inion OTPS. Road crashes were the commonest mechanism of injury (81%), followed by falls. Seventy-two percent of patients were male, with a median age at operation of 53 years (interquartile range [IQR], 40-64 years). Median number of ribs fixed was 3 (IQR, 2-4), while median number of fractures was 9 (IQR, 6-13). Median time to fixation was 5 days (IQR, 3-7 days), intensive care unit stay 3 days (IQR, 0.8-6.3 days), and total hospital stay 13.5 days (IQR, 8.8-22 days). Wound infection occurred in 19%, with nonunion of a fixed fracture in one patient. Sixty-three percent of patients completed the survey with a mean time between open reduction and internal fixation and questionnaire of 1,039 days (+/-480 days). Patients reported low levels of pain at rest and with coughing (median at rest 1.0/10 [IQR, 0-2.3/10]; with coughing 1.3/10 [IQR, 0-3.75/10]). Chest wall stiffness was experienced by 60% of patients, while dyspnoea at rest was reported by 20% of patients. Mean return to work (for 55%) was 3.9 months (+/-3.3 months). All patients were satisfied with the results of their operation.
Conclusion: Patients demonstrated low levels of pain and satisfactory rehabilitation. The Inion OTPS system has several advantages including gradual transference of stress loads to bone, micromotion across the fracture site, and easy wrapping of comminuted fractures. This technique allows excellent stabilization of fractured ribs, with good clinical results in ambulant and ventilated patients, both with initial and with midterm follow-up.