Innovative Device Closes Breastbone After Your Heart Surgery (Video)

Reduces complications after open-heart surgery
Innovative Closure Device

Woe to the unlucky patient who sails through open-heart surgery, only to suffer painful complications when their breastbone (sternum) fails to heal.

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Patients with diabetes, obesity or prior radiation to the chest, are among those at risk. In such patients, wiring the split sternum back together may not produce a tight closure or stable union, resulting in chronic pain.

Cleveland Clinic surgeons have found a better way:

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Borrowing plate-and-screw technology from orthopedic surgery—the experts at putting bones back together—they developed a rigid sternal closure (RSC) device that aligns bone perfectly and eliminates slippage.

The device is unique in that it is installed before the sternum is opened as opposed to other available systems that are installed afterwards. When surgery is complete, the ribs are brought back together and the two halves of the RSC are realigned. A ratchet is used to close the space tightly, which promotes healing and prevents bleeding.

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“Cardiothoracic surgery is one of the only surgical specialties still using wires to close bones. Plates and screws create a more secure union,” says Cleveland Clinic cardiothoracic surgeon Douglas Johnston, MD, one of the inventors. “We hope that healing will be faster with less pain, especially in high risk patients.”

Made of titanium, the RSC is biocompatible, MRI-compatible and does not activate metal detectors. Should access to the heart ever be needed for an emergency reoperation, the device can be easily reopened.

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