Is plating your ribs an option?

(WTNH - Jocelyn Maminta)
(WTNH - Jocelyn Maminta)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Breaking or bruising your ribs is painful. For simple fractures, patients are prescribed rest and pain meds.

However, the more complex ones will likely required surgery.

Jack Sayre is back to his active self after accidentally getting run over by a slow moving small pickup truck.

“I couldn’t get away from it because I’m on my back and it just ran up over. You hear the little crunching noise as it goes because I broke seven ribs.”

A sharp pain — with every breath and movement.

“I was told then you know, we don’t have to operate. It might mend itself, however they are not lined up.”

The not so simple breaks are why Jack chose to have his ribs plated.

Dr. Jeffrey Meter with Connecticut Orthopedic Trauma & Fracture Institute at St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center, is the surgeon who did the rib plating procedure.

He plated ribs two through five on Jack’s right side.

He explains, “We put the fracture back together on each of those and then put a plate like this with the lock-in screws into it to stabilize the fracture. The screw we put in, locks into the plate and its fixed and when you put several of those lock-in screws in – then it makes it a very rigid structure and you can hold even very thin ribs with a short screw.”

A far cry from past treatments – like working with twisted wires to stabilize the ribs.

“Patients did well. It just did not give the stability and the pain relief that our current systems have,” says Dr. Meter.

After five days in the hospital, Jack went home with no pain.

“Frankly, I was afraid to cough,” he says, “but then I did and it didn’t hurt,”

An added plus Jack says, “The people in the hospital said are you going to rehab? I said I’m going home.”

No rehab for the 81-year-old.

Dr. Meter says rib plating is for the more complex rib fractures, for patients of every age group.

That it really comes down to the severity of the injury.

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