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09.11.2017 | Original Article | Ausgabe 3/2018

European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery 3/2018

Reduced invasive and muscle-sparing operative approaches to the posterolateral chest wall provide an excellent accessibility for the operative stabilization!

Minimized approaches to the posterolateral chest wall

European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery > Ausgabe 3/2018
A. Langenbach, Pascal Oppel, Sina Grupp, Sebastian Krinner, Milena Pachowsky, Thomas Buder, Melanie Schulz-Drost, Friedrich F. Hennig, Stefan Schulz-Drost



Stabilizing techniques for flail chest injuries are described through wide surgical approaches to the chest wall, especially in the most affected posterior and lateral regions. Severe morbidity due to these invasive approaches needs to be considered due to dissection of the scapular guiding muscles and the risk of injuries to neurovascular bundles. This study discusses possibilities for minimized approaches to the posterior and lateral regions.


Ten fresh-frozen cadavers in lateral decubitus position were observed on both sides. Each surgical arm was kept mobile during the procedure. Approaches were performed following a standard protocol with muscle-sparing incisions starting with 5 cm in length and extending to 10 and 15 cm. The accessible surface comparing the extensions was measured. Visible ribs were counted. In a next step, MatrixRib® Plates were fixed to those ribs to prove the feasibility of rib stabilization through limited approaches.


Combinations of the posterior and lateral minimized approaches allow surgical fixation of 6–9 and 7–11 ribs through 5 and 10 cm incisions, respectively. In the case of an extreme expansion of a rib fracture series, an access extension can be made to 15 cm to be able to adequately supply the entire hemithorax using two approaches.


Extensive invasive surgical approaches to the thoracic wall can be replaced by reduced invasive and muscle-sparing access combinations. A free-moving positioning of the arm and an accurate preoperative plan for minimizing approaches are essential. Minimally invasive plate techniques are very helpful adjuncts.

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