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25 June 2024 : Case report  Italy

Minimally Invasive Surgical Management of Chronic Cough-Induced Rib Fracture Non-Union: A Case Report

Challenging differential diagnosis, Unusual or unexpected effect of treatment, Rare disease, Educational Purpose (only if useful for a systematic review or synthesis)

Federico Raveglia1AE*, Lidia Libretti1E, Ugo Cioffi2E, Angelo Guttadauro3F, Francesco Petrella1A

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.943222

Am J Case Rep 2024; 25:e943222



BACKGROUND: Nonunion of a rib fracture can cause chronic pain, and pharmacological pain management may lead to medication dependence. This report describes a 54-year-old man with a chronic cough and painful nonunion fracture of the left posterior 8th rib, managed with minimally invasive surgery and a rib splint.

CASE REPORT: A 54-year-old man presented with chronic cough-induced left chest wall pain. Three-dimensional chest computed tomography (CT) scan showed a nonunion of a fracture of the left posterior 8th rib. After medical management failure, we proposed a surgical approach with the aim to remove the tissue comprising the nonunion, release the nerve, and stabilize the bone stumps. To avoid the adverse effects of a large incision, we designed a minimally invasive strategy based on ultrasound fracture localization and the use of an intramedullary splint. The pain disappeared immediately after surgery. The patient was discharged in 24 hours. At 6-week follow-up, he was still asymptomatic, and a new CT scan reconfirmed the correct splint position. From the immediate postoperative evaluation until the last follow-up visit, he consistently reported full satisfaction.

CONCLUSIONS: This report has highlighted the challenges of management of chronic pain in nonunion of a rib fracture, and has described the use of a minimally invasive surgical approach. In this single case, our tailored surgical strategy achieved definitive success in pain management, minimizing postoperative complications/adverse effects and avoiding the addition of pain medications despite a 24-hour hospital stay. Our goal is to share an alternative solution for colleagues facing similar cases.

Keywords: Rib Fractures, chronic pain, Splints, pain management, Postoperative Complications, Chest Pain

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American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923
American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923