Can you break a sternum wire two years postop?...

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dick0236

Eat the elephant one bite at a time
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Checked my old surgical record and my sternum was closed with #20 wire and the wire is still in place. My guess is after the sternum heals there is no need for the wire. Some have the wires removed. I've never found them a bother.
 

pellicle

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Queensland, Australia
Hello valvers!
Just wondering, can you break a sternal wire two years after surgery? If so, does this have to be fixed? At two years postop the sternum is totally healed.
Just curious if wires can be broken after a couple years.
Thanks!
only if you're sternum has not healed and the bones are held together by only the wires. I guess also that a massive trauma to the sternum (say, head on collision at high speed in a car) may provide sufficient force to break them, but I doubt it. They are well embedded into bone.

Actually that's an issue for redo operations ... as the cutting through the sternum often leaves the wires exposed (at the cut) and allows a possible location for the little bastards to hide in.

This is a scan of my chest post surgery (before my debridements where they removed my top three wires)



the older wires (from surgeries past) are visible cut, and embedded in the bone. The ends would be visible due to the saw passing through them.

Infections in this area are uncommon (but not unheard of as they appear in the literature and there is a whole class of surgery around it) and only the privileged few get to wear that badge of honor. I'm hoping to get kicked out of the academy early!

So your sternal wires are safe ... also don't get them removed because unless there is a problem with them (causing you discomfort) because the removal process is like pulling fencing wire from inside pieces of wood. They just cut and pull through. So it comes with risks of trauma (behind the sternum when the sharp wire end passes through) as well as the possibility of it pulling an infection through to behind the sternum (and yes I've had that).


stop worrying ;-)
 

epstns

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"only if you're sternum has not healed and the bones are held together by only the wires. I guess also that a massive trauma to the sternum (say, head on collision at high speed in a car) may provide sufficient force to break them, but I doubt it. They are well embedded into bone."

Yeah, Pellicle, I'm with you here. If the bone has healed properly, the wires are just along for the ride. As long as there is no motion between the parts of the sternum or trauma to the wires or sternum, they aren't likely at all to break.

Now, the twisted ends, where the surgeon ties the ends of the wires together, could come to the surface and cause problems, which might be mistaken for broken wires. I guess you sould visualize what it going on via X-ray.
 

pellicle

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Now, the twisted ends, where the surgeon ties the ends of the wires together, could come to the surface and cause problems,
its worth mentioning (now that you remind me) that I had my top sternal wire start to 'pronate' exactly as you mention some 3 or 4 years after my 1992 surgery. It was a very significant and visible lump under the skin and caused pain (like yeowwww) when bumped (frequent as I was doing Aikido at the time). I had the top two wires removed (in over night, out next day) and there was no problems.

:)
 

tom in MO

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Jan 17, 2012
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MO USA
I don't think you can break them, but they can become more prevalent and bother you. On this board in the last two years, about two people other than pellicle have mentioned that they had the wires removed.
 

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