access intranet after hours circle-arrow apply blog caret circle arrow close closer look community outreach community outreach contact contact us down arrow facebook lock solid find a provider find a clinical trial find a provider find a researcher find faculty find-a-service how to apply join leadership left arrow locations logo make a gift map location maximize minimize my chart my chart notification hp notification lp next chevron right nxt prev pay your bill play previous quality and safety refer a patient request a speaker request appointment request an appointment residents corner rss search search jobs Asset 65 submit a story idea symptom checker Arrow Circle Up twitter youtube Dino Logo External Link University Logo Color University Logo Solid Health Logo Solid Arrow Right Circle Book Calendar Date Calendar Search Date Diploma Certificate Dollar Circle Donate Envelope Graduation Cap Map Pin Map Search Phone Pills Podcast

No Longer a Waiting Game: New Rib Fixation Technology Enables Rib Stabilization


Dr, Evert Eriksson, trauma surgeon, repairing a patient's rib with a rib fixation device.
Trauma surgeon Evert Eriksson surgically implants new rib fixation technology that enables rib stabilization in patients with flail chest,leading to better respiration and lower rates of ventilator usage.

Treatment for patients with complex rib fractures used to be a waiting game.

MUSC Health trauma surgeon Evert A. Eriksson M.D., remembers being taught in medical school to provide only supportive care, often including mechanical ventilation, to the most severely injured patients, those with “flail chest,” and wait for the ribs to mend well enough for normal breathing to resume.

In flail chest, at least two ribs are broken in two places, compromising the chest wall’s rigidity and leading to di¦culties breathing and severe pain. Unfortunately, due to prolonged periods on the respirator, these patients had a higher risk of pneumonia and often required narcotics for pain control.

The wait is over.

New rib fixation technology and minimally invasive techniques for its implantation enable rib stabilization in patients with flail chest, leading to better respiration and lower rates of ventilator usage.¹

These encouraging findings led surgeons to extend the use of surgical rib fixation to patients who begin to fail ventilation and to those with major chest wall injuries who do not require ventilation.

“We’re changing how we manage rib fractures,” says Eriksson. “We can now put in specially designed plates to fix the ribs and get these patients out of the hospital faster, decrease their pain and get them back to their lives sooner. Their ICU length of stay and their risk of pneumonia go down.”

The Chest Wall Injury Society (CWIS; recently conducted a survey of trauma surgeons to learn when they opted for surgical rib fixation. For patients with three or more rib fractures with at least 50 percent displacement, there was a split decision, with roughly half of respondents opting for surgical fixation and half opting for a “wait and see” approach.

The CWIS is sponsoring a multicenter trial to test whether surgical fixation improves pain control, breathing function and quality of life in these patients. Eriksson is the principal site investigator for MUSC Health, which is the second center in the nation to open the trial and currently the second highest-enrolling site.

Eriksson also serves on the national research committee and guidelines committee for the CWIS

1. Pieracci FM, et al. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2016 Feb;80(2):187-194.