Sternum Dehiscence: A Preventable Complication of Median Sternotomy

Review of 1559 Consecutive Sternotomy Without Dehiscence


  • Emin Can Ata, MD Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Medipol Mega University Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Metin Onur Beyaz, MD Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Medipol Mega University Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey



cardiothoracic surgery; dehiscence; mediastinitis; sternotomy;


Background: The incidence of sternal dehiscence following cardiothoracic surgery via sternotomy is rare. It causes serious patient dissatisfaction and leads to higher hospital costs. For years, each clinic has made efforts to reduce this complication. Here, we aimed to summarize our techniques to prevent dehiscence.

Material: This retrospective study included two groups operated via median sternotomy from March 2009 to May 2019. The first group included 1,105 consecutive patients who only received sternum wire for sternum closure from March 2009 to October 2013. The second group included 1,559 consecutive patients operated from January 2014 to May 2019; preventive closure techniques were performed for predefined high-risk patients in this group. These closure techniques included polyglyconate (Maxon) or simple longitudinal reinforced sutures, sternal cable or sternoband, sternal plate, and Robiscek technique.

Results: All patients in Group 1, and 63.8% (995/1559) patients in Group 2 received sternal wire only (P < .001). In Group 2, we applied preventive closure techniques to 564 (36.2%) patients. There was no sternal dehiscence in Group 2, whereas 29 (2.6%) patients postoperatively suffered sternal dehiscence in Group 1; this was statistically significant (P = .001, OR:85.5, 95%CI:5.22-1400.4). The overall incidence of mediastinitis was 0.94%. The incidence significantly was lower in Group 2 (P = .004, OR:3.6, 95%CI:1.52-8.82). Sternum-related mortality in Group 2 also was lower (0.54% versus 0.06%, P = .048, OR:8.5, 95% CI: 1.02-70.75).

Conclusion: Sternal dehiscence can be avoided by careful perioperative risk assessment and enhanced closure techniques. The same special consideration may significantly reduce mediastinitis and sternal-related mortality.


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How to Cite

Ata, E. C., & Beyaz, M. O. (2020). Sternum Dehiscence: A Preventable Complication of Median Sternotomy: Review of 1559 Consecutive Sternotomy Without Dehiscence. The Heart Surgery Forum, 23(5), E599-E605.