A case of severe flail chest with several dislocated sterno-chondral fractures

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INTRODUCTION: Flail chest is diagnosed clinically by the presence of paradox movement of a segment of the thoracic wall during spontaneous breathing. Radiographic finding confirming a clinical flail chest are fractures of three or more consecutive ribs or costal cartilages in two or more places. Surgical stabilization is associated with a reduced length of hospital stay, time with mechanical ventilation and risk of respiratory complications.

PRESENTATION OF CASE: A trauma patient had a Computed Tomography (CT) scan showing multiple costa fractures, sternal fracture, manubrium fracture, sternal displacement and dehiscence of the sternal-costal attachment. The severity of the trauma was visualized after performing a cartilage reconstruction of the trauma CT scan. The patient underwent surgery, using fixation plates to stabilize the thoracic cage, and was then weaned quickly from mechanical ventilation.

DISCUSSION: This case indicates, that if a patient has a severe flail chest recognized clinically, but not radiologically, a reconstruction of cartilage can reveal the true severity of the trauma. Indeed, the patient in this case experienced a positive outcome from surgery. However, such a procedure demands correct timing and experience in surgical stabilization of the thoracic wall. Furthermore, the injury required accurate planning with the involved personal before surgery.

CONCLUSION: Surgical stabilization of advanced flail chest with concomitant sternal fracture, seems to be a safe procedure, that might reduce the need of mechanical ventilation and the length of stay at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Furthermore, cartilage reconstruction of the trauma CT scan can potentially identify a severe flail chest, that might be missed on regular 3D bone reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Surgery Case Reports
Pages (from-to)52-56
Number of pages5
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Oct 2019

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