The Journal of Cardiothoracic Trauma

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year
: 2019  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4--9

Current trends in the management of flail chest and the perceived role of the surgeon


J Brock Walker1, Sean M Mitchell1, Pierce Johnson1, Joshua W Hustedt1, Niloofar Dehghan2, Michael D Mckee1, Clifford B Jones2 
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
2 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix; The CORE Institute, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Correspondence Address:
J Brock Walker
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona
USA

Background: Flail chest injuries typically occur in poly-traumatized patients and are often associated with prolonged hospital stays and high rates of morbidity and mortality. Despite multiple studies showing significantly improved outcomes with surgical fixation, the surgical community has been slow to adopt rib fixation as a part of practice and, as a result, many of these patients never undergo surgical fixation. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the percentage of flail chest injuries that are being treated with surgical fixation in the United States. In addition, a survey of orthopedic trauma surgeons was conducted to assess their perception of the role of orthopedics in the treatment of patients with flail chest injuries. Methods: Patients diagnosed with a flail chest injury were identified using the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database between 2001 and 2012 and divided into two groups based on whether or not surgical fixation of the chest wall was performed. In addition, we distributed a survey questionnaire to orthopedic trauma surgeons focusing on each individual's experience with rib fracture fixation both in training and practice. Results: A total of 45,202 patients with a flail chest injury were identified using the NIS database between 2001 and 2012. Of these, 2.1% underwent surgical fixation of the chest wall with an increase in rate of fixation from 0.8% to 3.3% over the study period. According to our survey, only 20% of orthopedic trauma surgeons performed any rib fracture fixation cases in training, and only 24% perform rib fracture fixation cases in their practice. Of those who do not perform rib fracture fixation, 72% would consider doing so if they received additional training on the topic. Of all participants surveyed, 60% believed that rib fracture fixation should be a part of the orthopedic residency curriculum and 89% believed that it should be a part of the orthopedic trauma fellowship curriculum. Conclusions: Very few flail chest injuries are being treated with surgical fixation despite the emerging literature showing improved outcomes when compared to nonoperative management. Our survey shows that there is significant interest in incorporating rib fracture fixation into surgeons' training curriculum, as well as providing specialized workshops for practicing surgeons. We hope this work encourages the surgical community to embrace rib fracture fixation as a part of our specialty so that patients with flail chest injuries receive optimal care.


How to cite this article:
Walker J B, Mitchell SM, Johnson P, Hustedt JW, Dehghan N, Mckee MD, Jones CB. Current trends in the management of flail chest and the perceived role of the surgeon.J Cardiothorac Trauma 2019;4:4-9


How to cite this URL:
Walker J B, Mitchell SM, Johnson P, Hustedt JW, Dehghan N, Mckee MD, Jones CB. Current trends in the management of flail chest and the perceived role of the surgeon. J Cardiothorac Trauma [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Dec 1 ];4:4-9
Available from: https://www.jctt.org/article.asp?issn=2542-6281;year=2019;volume=4;issue=1;spage=4;epage=9;aulast=Walker;type=0