Sternochondral replacement: use of cadaveric allograft for the reconstruction of anterior chest wall

J Thorac Dis. 2020 Jan;12(1):3-9. doi: 10.21037/jtd.2019.07.82.


Background: Sternum may be involved by different diseases such as trauma, infection after cardiac surgery, tumors (primary and secondary) or chest wall deformities. Surgical excision with a safety margin is the primary goal after sternal resection for tumors, prevention of respiratory impairment due to flail chest and deformity and protection of surrounding organs are other important aims. Various techniques and materials have been used for this operation. We describe the use of cadaveric sternal allograft to reconstruct the chest wall in fourteen patients.

Methods: Between October 2008 and February 2017, five males and nine females underwent surgical procedure because of primary sternal neoplasm, single-site metastatic disease, neuroendocrine thymic carcinoma and sternal dehiscence after cardiac surgery.

Results: Fourteen sternectomy were undertaken. A muscle flap of pectoralis major was prepared to cover the graft in 9 patients. Adjuvant chemotherapy and radiotherapy were performed after surgery in three patients. No postoperative complications happened in 11 cases (84.6%). One (7.1%) patient died 9 days after surgery because of pulmonary embolism. Two patients (15.4%) had complications: one presented fever caused by systemic candidiasis and one had a muscle flap bleeding. Hospitalization median time was 11 days (range, 6-31 days). At follow up, 7 patients were alive in absence of disease, 1 patient is alive with recurrence, 6 patients died but nor infection neither rejection of the graft happened. No respiratory impairment or flail chest were registered in any patients.

Conclusions: This technique for sternal replacement in our experience can be considered safe with long term results, providing optimal chest wall stability. The allograft resulted well-tolerated permitting an optimal graft integration in the host.

Keywords: Sternum; allograft; chest wall; chest wall reconstruction; tumors.