Date: 4/3/2009

Doctors use new closure system for chest surgery patients

Cardiovascular surgeons at Community Hospital in Munster are among the first in the country to adopt a new tool and technique called the Rapid Sternal Closure (RSC) Talon system that promotes greater patient comfort and improved recovery time following open-heart and other types of chest surgery. Designed to replace the standard wire-closure system, the RSC Talon system by KLS Martin offers a lower infection rate and faster healing time.

Community Hospital Cardiothoracic Surgeon Andrew Barksdale, M.D. recently used the new procedure following an open heart surgery.

Surgeons performing procedures on the heart and other major organs open the chest by dividing the sternum in two. The sternum is the bone that lies in the center of the chest. After surgery is complete, the sternum needs to be held together securely to allow new bone to grow and heal.

In the past, surgeons used stainless-steel wires to hold the sternum together during the recovery and healing process. These wires have the potential to break or cut through the bone. Also, with the wire technique, very small movements of the two sternum halves sometimes occur during post-operative coughing and deep-breathing exercises. These movements can hinder the healing process, cause excessive discomfort and lead to serious infections.

“The surgery and closure with the Sternal Talon® went very well with our first patient,” Barksdale said. “The device is definitely more durable than wires. This particular patient had severe emphysema and a history of coughing. We didn’t want to take a chance with the wires that the patient’s body movement from coughing could force them to break or cut through and delay healing.”

In contrast to the wire method of closing after chest surgery, the new RSC Talon system provides rigid fixation of the sternum. The Sternal Talon® is a clamp that secures both sides of the sternum and holds them in place with very strong mechanical forces. Body motions are much less likely to create movement in the healing sternum, translating into quicker healing time, less discomfort and a reduced risk for infection.

“I would definitely use the device again in high risk patients, those who have diabetes, are obese, have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or have a transverse sternal fracture,” Barksdale said.

The Sternal Talon® can be reopened using one of two methods by a surgeon if it becomes necessary at a later date for another chest surgery in the same patient, according to Barksdale.

To find a cardiothoracic surgeon on staff at Community Hospital in Munster, call our free physician referral line at 219-836-3477 or toll-free 1-866-836-3477.