Background: Rib fracture fixation is becoming more popular and widely accepted among trauma surgeons worldwide as the recommended treatment method for flail chest injury. Recent data demonstrate improved results when compared with nonoperative treatment. Improved outcomes were reported regarding ICU stay, need for tracheostomy, length of hospital stay, ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), and even death. The objective of this study was to ascertain whether clinical respiratory parameters are improved after rib fracture fixation procedure. Methods: This is a prospective study using a retrospective cohort for control, which took place at the Soroka University Medical Centre, Israel. Inclusion criteria included all patients over 18 years of age with flail chest injury or multiple ribs fractures, who were admitted to the General Intensive Care Unit (GICU). Between October 2015 and December 2018, we identified 24 patients who had their rib fractures operatively fixed and compared them to 61 patients with flail chest and multiple rib fractures, who were admitted to our GICU between the years 2010 and 2015 and were treated non-operatively. In all the surgical cases operations were performed within 72 hours of arrival in accordance with our treatment algorithm. All fractures were fixed using specialised anatomic locking plates/nails. Demographic data were collected, and respiratory parameters before and after the surgery were recorded and analysed. Results: We compared patients who had had their rib fractures fixed with a cohort group of patients who had been treated non-operatively in the past. No demographic differences were found between the 2 groups, nor were there any differences in their clinical trauma scoring, mechanical ventilation days, length of ICU stay, VAP, and death rates. The respiratory parameters (paO2/FiO2ratio and chest wall compliance) were significantly higher during the 3 ensuing days after surgery and continued to improve in Group 1 (rib fixation group), in comparison to group 2 (non-operative) patients (P = 0.007 and P < 0.0001, respectively). The peak inspiratory pressure and PEEP parameters were significantly lower in group 1 in comparison to group 2 during the 3 days, in favour of the operated group, with significant improvement noted over the 3 days post-surgery (P = 0.007 and P = 0.02, respectively). Conclusions: We suggest that surgical treatment of flail chest and multiple rib fractures has clinical benefit and improves respiratory parameters even in the presence of multiple trauma injuries.
- Flail chest
- Intensive care unit
- Multiple ribs fractures
- Respiratory parameters
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine