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Rib fixation promotes healing and reduces pain for fractured

Rib fractures are a common injury, often caused by blunt trauma to the chest.

March 22, 2024
Surgeons performing surgery.

Rib fractures are a common injury, often caused by blunt trauma to the chest. While most of these injuries are not life-threatening, they can be extremely painful and may require treatment. Rib plating is a surgical technique used to stabilize fractured ribs and promote healing. Farshad Farnejad, MD at North Suburban Medical Center is a fellowship-trained surgeon with dual-board-certification in general surgery and critical care. Experienced in performing rib plating procedures, Dr. Farnjead explains, “This procedure can be particularly life-changing for certain patients and can lead to a decrease in opioid use during the recovery process. Immediately after the procedure, patients can breathe better and are relieved of the extreme pain associated with rib fractures.”

Intense Pain of Rib Fractures

Rib fractures can be extremely painful due to the location of the injury and the movement of the chest during breathing. “The ribcage is designed to protect vital organs, such as the heart and lungs, and any injury to this area can cause significant discomfort,” Dr. Farnejad clarifies. “Additionally, the ribs are surrounded by numerous muscles, nerves, and blood vessels, which can also be affected by a fracture. When a rib is broken, the sharp edges of the bone can rub against these structures, causing pain and inflammation. Additionally, the chest moves with every breath, making it difficult for the injured area to rest and heal.” All of these factors contribute to the significant pain and discomfort that can accompany rib fractures.

Rib Plating for Broken Ribs

Not all rib fractures require surgical intervention, but rib plating can be particularly beneficial for patients who have suffered multiple rib fractures or who have underlying health conditions that make healing more difficult. Also called rib fixation or internal fixation, rib plating may also be recommended for patients who are experiencing severe pain or difficulty breathing as a result of their injuries.

“For this procedure, we surgically place small metal plates and screws along the surface of the fractured rib. These plates are designed to hold the rib in place and assist in healing,” Dr. Farnejad details. “The procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia, and patients may require a short hospital stay after surgery.”

Benefits of Rib Plating

Patients who undergo rib plating may experience a shorter recovery time and be able to return to normal activities sooner than those who rely on non-surgical treatments. Another significant benefit of rib plating is the potential for decreased opioid use during recovery. Opioids are commonly used to manage pain following rib fractures, but they come with a host of potential side effects and risks, including addiction and overdose. By reducing pain and promoting healing, rib plating can help patients avoid or minimize the need for opioids during recovery. This can lead to better outcomes and reduced risk of opioid-related complications.

If you think rib plating might be right for you, Dr. Farnejad encourages you to speak with your healthcare provider. “There are certain risks and challenges associated with this procedure, but for the right patient, the potential benefits are significant.” With proper care and attention, patients who undergo rib fixation can look forward to a faster and more comfortable recovery, allowing them to return to their normal activities and enjoy a better quality of life. To learn more about surgery at North Suburban Medical Center, visit us online.

March 22, 2024
North Suburban Medical Center