Sternotomy closure using rigid plate fixation: a paradigm shift from wire cerclage
Background: Rigid plate fixation (RPF) is the cornerstone in managing fractures/osteotomies except for sternotomy, where most cardiac surgeons continue to use wire cerclage (WC). Results of a multicenter randomized trial evaluating sternal healing, sternal complications, patient reported outcome measures (PROMs), and costs after sternotomy closure with RPF or WC are summarized here.
Methods: Twelve US centers randomized 236 patients to either RPF (n=116) or WC (n=120). The primary endpoint, sternal healing at 6 months, was evaluated by a core laboratory using computed tomography and a validated 6-point scale (greater scores represent greater healing). Secondary endpoints assessed through 6 months included sternal complications and PROMs. Costs from the time of sternal closure through 90 days and 6 months were analyzed by a health economic core laboratory.
Results: RPF compared to WC resulted in better sternal healing scores at 3 (2.6±1.1 vs. 1.8±1.0; P<0.0001) and 6 months (3.8±1.0 vs. 3.3±1.1; P=0.0007) and higher sternal union rates at 3 [41% (42/103) vs. 16% (16/102); P<0.0001)] and 6 months [80% (81/101) vs. 67% (67/100); P=0.03)]. There were fewer sternal complications with RPF through 6 months [0% (0/116) vs. 5% (6/120); P=0.03] and a trend towards fewer sternal wound infections [0% (0/116) vs. 4.2% (5/120); P=0.06]. All PROMs including sternal pain, upper extremity function (UEF), and quality-of-life scores were numerically better in RPF patients compared to WC patients at all follow-up time points. Although RPF was associated with a trend toward higher index hospitalization costs, a trend towards lower follow-up costs resulted in total costs that were $1,888 less at 90 days in RPF patients compared to WC patients (95% CI: −$8,889 to $4,273; P=0.52) and $1,646 less at 6 months (95% CI: –$9,127 to $4,706; P=0.61).
Conclusions: Sternotomy closure with RPF resulted in significantly better sternal healing, fewer sternal complications, improved PROMs and was cost neutral through 90 days and 6 months compared to WC.