Complications Associated With Autologous Rib Cartilage Use in Rhinoplasty

  • Wee J
  • Park M
  • Oh S
 et al. 
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Although autologous rib cartilage is a preferred source of graft material in rhinoplasty, rib cartilage for dorsal augmentation has been continuously criticized for its tendency to warp and for high donor-site morbidities. However, no meta-analysis or systemic review on complications associated with autologous rib cartilage use in rhinoplasty has been conducted.


To carry out a systematic review and a meta-analysis of available literature to evaluate complications regarding autologous rib cartilage in rhinoplasty.

Data Sources

The studies reporting complications associated with the autologous rib cartilage use in rhinoplasty were systematically reviewed by searching the MEDLINE, PubMed, and Embase databases for sources published from 1946 through June 2013.

Study Selection

The selected articles included clinical studies conducted with at least 10 patients and at least 1 postoperative long-term complication or donor-site morbidity in rhinoplasty. Excluded were nonhuman studies; review articles; case reports; abstracts; and reports of nasal reconstruction as indication for surgery, use of homologous rib cartilage, and diced or laminated methods.

Data Extraction and Synthesis

Two investigators independently reviewed all studies and extracted the data using a standardized form. A meta-analysis was performed using a random-effects model.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Number of patients; follow-up duration; and rates of complication, donor-site morbidity, and revision surgery. Also noted were study authors and year of publication.


Ten studies involving a total 491 patients were identified. Mean follow-up across all studies was 33.3 months. In meta-analysis, the combined rates were 3.08% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0%-10.15%) for warping, 0.22% (95% CI, 0%-1.25%) for resorption, 0.56% (95% CI, 0%-2.61%) for infection, 0.39% (95% CI, 0%-1.97%) for displacement, 5.45% (95% CI, 0.68%-13.24%) for hypertrophic chest scarring, 0% (95% CI, 0%-0.32%) for pneumothorax, and 14.07% (95% CI, 6.19%-24.20%) for revision surgery.

Conclusions and Relevance

The overall long-term complications and donor-site morbidity rates associated with autologous rib cartilage use in rhinoplasty were low. Warping and hypertrophic chest scarring showed relatively higher rates, warranting a surgeon’s attention. Because a limited number of studies and patients were eligible, and consistent definitions of complications were lacking in this meta-analysis, future studies with a larger series of patients and objective outcome measurements are needed to obtain more reliable results.

Level of Evidence


Author-supplied keywords

  • cicatrix
  • costal cartilage
  • donor site
  • follow-up
  • hypertrophic cicatrix
  • infection
  • pneumothorax
  • postoperative complications
  • repeat surgery
  • rhinoplasty
  • surgical procedures, operative
  • tissue transplants
  • transplantation, autologous

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  • Jee Hye Wee

  • Min-Hyun Park

  • Sohee Oh

  • Hong-Ryul Jin

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