The effectiveness of early surgical stabilization for multiple rib fractures: a multicenter randomized controlled trial

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Introduction: Multiple rib fractures (≥ 3 displaced rib fractures and/or flail chest) are severe chest trauma with high morbidity and mortality. Rib fixation has become the first choice for multiple rib fracture treatment. However, the timing of surgical rib fixation is unclear. Materials and methods: The present study explored whether early rib fracture fixation can improve the outcome of multiple rib fractures. The present research included patients who were hospitalized in three Jiangsu hospitals following diagnosis with multiple rib fractures. Patients received early rib fracture fixation (≤ 48 h) or delayed rib fracture fixation (> 48 h) utilizing computer-based random sequencing (in a 1:1 ratio). The primary outcome measures included hospital length of stay, intensive care unit (ICU) stay, mechanical ventilation, inflammatory cytokine levels, infection marker levels, infection, and mortality. Results: A total of 403 individuals were classified into two groups, namely, the early group (n = 201) and the delayed group (n = 202). Patients belonging to the two groups had similar baseline clinical data, and there were no statistically significant differences between them. Early rib fracture fixation greatly decreased the length of stay in the ICU (4.63 days vs. 6.72 days, p < 0.001), overall hospital stay (10.15 days vs. 12.43 days, p < 0.001), ventilation days (3.67 days vs. 4.55 days, p < 0.001), and hospitalization cost (6900 USD vs. 7600 USD, p = 0.008). Early rib fracture fixation can decrease inflammatory cytokine levels and infection marker levels, prevent hyperinflammation and improve infection in patients with multiple rib fractures. The timing of rib fracture fixation does not influence the surgical procedure time, operative blood loss, 30-day all-cause mortality, or surgical site infection. Conclusion: The findings from the present research indicated that early rib fracture fixation (≤ 48 h) is a safe, rational, effective and economical strategy and worth clinical promotion.




Wang, Z., Jia, Y., & Li, M. (2023). The effectiveness of early surgical stabilization for multiple rib fractures: a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery, 18(1).

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