Objective: To describe the long-term results, quality of life and chronic pain after chest wall fixation for traumatic rib fracture using a quality of life (QOL) score and a numeric pain score.
Methods: Retrospective analysis of 10 consecutive patients who underwent surgery for rib fractures after trauma and reconstruction between October 2010 and March 2012. Chest rib fractures were fixed with titanium clips and bars or titanium plates and screws through a posterolateral thoracotomy. Pain was assessed with a numeric pain scale 0-10 and quality of life (QOL) with the EORTC questionnaire QLQ-C30.
Results: There were 5 males and 5 females. The median age was 58 years (range 21-80). There were no postoperative deaths. The only postoperative complication observed was a contralateral pleural effusion requiring drainage. Median length of stay of the drain and median length of hospital stay were 2 days (range 0-8) and 4 days (range 1-42 days), respectively. The average follow-up period of operatively managed patients was 14 months (range 8-23.5 months). Seven patients scored the pain as 0, one as 1 (mild), one as 4 (moderate) and one as 8 (severe). Only two patients are taking occasionally pain killers. Only one patient presents severe limitation in his life scoring his QOL as poor.
Conclusions: Titanium devices (clips and bars; screws and plates) are effective and safe for repair of rib fractures and showed good long-term results in terms of pain and quality of life after the operation.