All too often after cardiac surgery, during the recovery period, some of the sternal wires used to close your chest break. This is due to coughing and moving around. This is a common occurrence after surgery and is not the fault of the surgeon. It simply happens. Unfortunately, it leaves you, the patient, with an unstable chest wall.
What do I do if I have this problem?
You need to discuss this with your cardiologist. He can best assess your chest wall dynamics and see if this is actually what is going on with you, if so, you may be in need of a chest wall stabilization procedure.
What is a chest wall stabilization procedure?
Recently, studies have shown that a significant number of patients suffer from an unstable chest wall after cardiac surgeries. To correct this instability and the persistent pain, the reconstructive surgeons stabilize the chest wall with titanium plates like a fracture. This gives the chest wall a great deal more stability.
Is this operation dangerous?
Yes and no. Every operation has inherent risks. However, as compared to a heart bypass operation, this is much less risky. The exact risks can be easily discussed with the reconstructive surgeon.
Does my insurance pay for this?
In most cases, yes. The insurance coverage does depend on your individual insurance. However, general insurance coverage like Medicare does routinely cover this operation.
Does anyone in my area do this procedure?
Yes. Dr. Kordestani is a fully trained reconstructive surgeon who resides in Amarillo. He is the Vice Chief of Surgery at Northwest Texas Health. He is also the recipient of the 2006 Physician of the Year Award for Amarillo and the Panhandle(NWTH). He has extensive experience in the area of reconstructive chest wall surgery and works closely with all of the cardiac surgeons.