Arch Plast Surg.  2019 Jul;46(4):336-343. 10.5999/aps.2018.01102.

Surgical outcomes of sternal rigid plate fixation from 2005 to 2016 using the American College of Surgeons-National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database

  • 1Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Sternal rigid plate fixation (RPF) has been adopted in recent years in high-risk cases to reduce complications associated with steel wire cerclage, the traditional approach to sternal closure. While sternal RPF has been associated with lower complication rates than wire cerclage, it has its own complication profile that requires evaluation, necessitating a critical examination from a national perspective. This study will report the outcomes and associated risk factors of sternal RPF using a national database.
Patients undergoing sternal RPF from 2005 to 2016 in the American College of Surgeons-National Surgical Quality Improvement Program were identified. Demographics, perioperative information, and complication rates were reviewed. Logistic regression analysis was performed to identify risk factors for postoperative complications.
There were 381 patient cases of RPF identified. The most common complications included bleeding (28.9%), mechanical ventilation >48 hours (16.5%), and reoperation/readmission (15.2%). Top risk factors for complications included dyspnea (odds ratio [OR], 2.672; P<0.001), nonelective procedure (OR, 2.164; P=0.010), congestive heart failure (OR, 2.152; P=0.048), open wound (OR, 1.977; P=0.024), and operating time (OR, 1.005; P<0.001).
Sternal RPF is associated with increased rates of three primary complications: blood loss requiring transfusion, ventilation >48 hours, and reoperation/readmission, each of which affected over 15% of the study population. Smokers remain at an increased risk for surgical site infection and sternal dehiscence despite RPF's purported benefit to minimize these outcomes. Complications of primary versus delayed sternal RPF are roughly equivalent, but individual patients may perform better with one versus the other based on identified risk factors.


Bone plates; Sternum; Surgery; Treatment outcome; Wound healing
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