Split sternum from by-pass surgery

In May of 2005 I had a quad by-pass. Ever since I have had problems in my chest such as snapping and pops where I can actually see something under the skin bumping up and down. Complained to my doctors with no results. In the meantime all four of my by-passes have failed and I go in next week to have another by-pass surgery and to have the sternum repaired. It is now in five seperate pieces and I have been told that the bone will never heal. The surgeon says that he will put it back together with steel mesh and wires.

Has anyone else ever had this problem?

Right now I feel very alone and very scared. I have been told that I am high risk but that the sternum needs to be repaired because it is causing problems. And that I don't qualify for stents as I am plugging in places where stents won't fit.

I tried to research split sternum on the internet with vitually no results. Just that it happens four to five percent of the time.

Thank you all for any help.


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Rosebud {{{{{hugs}}}}},

I too had much pain with my sternum, however it did finally heal. I still pop and crack every once in a while but I'm in year 4 now. My doctor (though world known) had horrid bedside manner and never provide any help with this problem. One day he ran his fingers down both sides of my sternum at the same time and I thought I was going to kill him. His response was you would be dead with the surgery......big help. If I every go through this again,he will not be doing the surgery - are you using the same surgeon?

I found for healing at home was to lay of on my back with pillows slightly under my back with very soft pillows help to make me stable.

Hope that helps - Good luck

Keep us updated.


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Hi Jill,

Thanks for the input. No I am using a new surgeon. The surgeon for my first surgery released me after only four weeks. When I told him that my chest was really hurting and that something was moving around in there, he basically told me that I was being a baby and that all of his men patients could drive after four weeks. He no longer works in this state..

I should have said in my first post that the wires holding the sternum together have all broken and part of them have pulled out. Evidently this was what broke up the upper half of the left side of the sternum. I haven't been able to lay on my back at all. The only lay i have been able to sleep is to lay on my side and then roll forwards onto a pillow. With it pressing into my chest I can rest because nothing is moving or popping.

I do have more faith in this new surgeon. For one thing, the nurses in intensive care recommended him. And I know he is telling the truth when he says that the bones will never heal back together now because it's been too long. He is basically going to put the sternum back together the same way that a totally smashed ankle is pinned and wired together.

Thank you for the hugs. I need them. And (((((hugs))))) back to you. I don't feel as alone now.


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I am so glad you are not using the same jerk, oops doctor. Sounds like my guy here in Richmond except he has jumped hospitals.

I have learned to live with the pain, but my cardio doc is supportive and is more worried about my bad plumbing (genes gave me the bad deck of cards - and I am adopted so no family history).

When are you scheduled? You are in my prayers and please post or email me via this site when you are back up and running. Heating pads help . Also the great great grandma look of a blanket around your shoulders. Seriously brought me comfort.



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Hi. My sternum didn't heal either so I ended up have it reconstructed by a plastic surgeon. I know that sounds weird to use a plastic surgeon, but according to what I read about sternal reconstruction that's who does the best job.

Double check that your surgeon is going to "debride" all the old junk out so that the new bone can grow. In my case, the surgeon did that, banded it together with little titanium bands and screws, and removed the xyphoid process, which is that little tail on the bottom of the sternum that doesn't do anything any way.

It might be that you'll have to have the bypass, get put together and then if the mesh/wires don't do the trick you could look for a plastic surgeon later. I know it sounds horrible right now, but after living with the broken sternum, I can totally relate and assure you that having it healed up with these plates is like a miracle. I have one loose rib that acts up every now and then, but other than that, am fine.

Best wishes for a successful bypass and recovery! Hang in there!


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Dear Rosebud,
I live in Lenexa, Kansas and had a quad by pass in Sept of 2007 and had a surgeon that is the coolest, most knowledgeable, and the kindest man I have ever met in the medical field.
I am an RN with 30+ years experience in the Operating Room. He has the greatest bedside manner I have ever witnessed, and he tells you like it is. I am now done with phase 2 of my rehab and on my own for a life time of exercise and eating, and I feel better than ever before. I know, from experience, that a good bedside manner is a necessity to healing. Most adults can handle what has to be done to and for them, if they are given the tools of exactly how to do that.
Not knowing your history, as to any disease processes you might have or risk factors, it is hard to try and figure out why your sternum didn't heal together, as intended, but if indeed I can be of any assistance to you, please call on me. God bless and ask a lot of questions of your new surgeon, before you have the next surgery......CADRN

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I had open heart surgery 30 years ago as a pediatric patient, and i still feel my sternum catch with an occasional breath and it cracks every morning without fail, just like someone popping knuckles.
it doesn't hurt, so hopefully your pain will go away.

Good Luck

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