INTRODUCTION Sternal fractures are debilitating injuries often resulting in severe pain and respiratory compromise. Surgical fixation of sternal fractures is gaining popularity as a treatment modality for sternal fractures. Unfortunately, little literature exists on this topic. This study looks to further examine the benefits of sternal fixation (SF), hypothesizing SF results in improved pain, improved respiratory function, and decreased opioid use. METHODS Retrospective review was performed between patients with sternal fractures who underwent nonoperative management (NOM) versus operative SF. Case matching was used to construct an artificial control group matched on age and Injury Severity Score using a 1:1 ratio of treatment to control. Exclusion criteria were age younger than 18 years. Outcomes of interest included mean pain score, total opioid requirements (in morphine milliequivalents) within 24 hours of discharge, intensive care unit and hospital length of stay (LOS), and incentive spirometry percent predicted value at discharge. Dependent variables were analyzed using t test, and Injury Severity Score was analyzed using the sign test. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05. RESULTS Fifty-eight patients from the SF cohort were matched with 58 patients from the NOM cohort. The average age was 59.8 years for the SF group and 62.2 years for the NOM group. Injury Severity Score was matched at 9 for both cohorts. Although pain scores were similar for both cohorts, the SF group required significantly less opioids at discharge (62.1 vs. 92.2 morphine milliequivalents; p = 0.007). In addition, the SF cohort demonstrated significantly improved respiratory function per incentive spirometry percent predicted value at discharge (75.5% vs. 59.9%; p < 0.001). Intensive care unit LOS and hospital LOS were similar between cohorts. CONCLUSION Despite similarities in pain scores, intensive care unit LOS, and hospital LOS, SF was associated with decreased opioid requirements and improved respiratory function at discharge in this study. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Therapeutic/Care Management; Level IV.
- respiratory function
- sternal fixation
- Sternal fracture
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine