Should I Have My Sternal Wires Removed? Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve had open-heart surgery, it’s possible that your sternum was repaired with wires. These wires are designed to keep the sternum in place while it heals. But, what happens when the healing is over? Should you have your sternal wires removed?

It’s a simple question, but the answer isn’t straightforward. In some cases, having your sternal wires removed may be necessary. However, the decision should be made with your doctor’s advice and guidance.

There are a few factors to consider when deciding whether or not to have your sternal wires removed. These include your overall health, any complications you’ve experienced since the surgery, and the degree of discomfort you’re feeling. So, while the decision may seem black and white, it’s important to carefully assess your unique situation before making any decisions.

Overview of Sternum Wires Removal Procedure

Sternum wires are used to hold the sternum or breastbone together during the healing process after open-heart surgery. The wires are placed around the sternum and are typically left in place permanently. However, some patients may experience discomfort or pain around the chest area due to the wires, which may prompt the question of whether they should have the sternal wires removed.

There are several reasons why a patient might consider sternal wire removal. In some cases, the wires can cause discomfort, especially during movement or deep breathing. Additionally, the wires may be visible under the chest skin, which can be aesthetically unpleasing for some patients. Lastly, complications such as infections or wire dislocation may arise, which may necessitate wire removal.

  • In order to remove the wires, the patient should undergo a thorough evaluation of their overall health status.
  • The procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
  • The surgeon will make a small incision along the original scar line in the middle of the chest to access the wires.
  • The wires are then carefully removed from the sternum using special pliers. In some cases, a scalpel may be used to gently detach the wire from the bone if needed.
  • The wound is then closed using stitches or surgical staples, and a sterile dressing is applied over the incision site to promote healing.

The recovery time after wire removal varies, but most patients can resume normal activities within 6-8 weeks. During the recovery period, patients should avoid heavy lifting or strenuous physical activity.

It is important to note that sternal wire removal is a safe and effective procedure, but it should only be performed by an experienced and qualified surgeon. Patients should discuss the potential risks and benefits of the procedure with their doctor before making a decision.

Risks and Benefits of Staying with Sternal Wires in Place

After heart surgery, the sternum (breastbone) is closed using stainless steel primary wires, which secure the bone in place as it heals. These wires are meant to be left in place indefinitely, but some patients may consider having them removed for various reasons. While the decision to have sternal wires removed is ultimately up to the patient, it is important to consider the risks and benefits of staying with the wires in place.

  • Risks of keeping sternal wires: Keeping sternal wires in place produces little to no risk for most patients. However, there are a few rare but potentially serious complications that can occur, such as sternal dehiscence (widening or separation of the sternum) and infection. Patients with certain medical conditions, such as osteoporosis or chronic cough, may be at higher risk of developing these complications.
  • Benefits of keeping sternal wires: The benefits of keeping sternal wires in place include the added support and stability they provide to the sternum as it heals. This support is especially important during the first 6-8 weeks after surgery when the sternum is most vulnerable. Staying with the wires in place also eliminates the need for another surgery, which carries its own set of risks and recovery time.

Ultimately, the decision to have sternal wires removed should be based on individual factors and the recommendation of a healthcare provider. Patients who have concerns about their wires should discuss this with their doctor to determine the best course of action.

It is important to note that the information presented here is meant to be general in nature and does not take into account individual patient circumstances. Patients should always consult with their healthcare provider regarding their specific situation.

Risks Benefits
Sternal dehiscence Added support and stability to sternum during healing
Infection Elimination of need for another surgery

Overall, the risks of keeping sternal wires are minimal, and the benefits usually outweigh any potential risks. Patients who are concerned about their wires or are experiencing discomfort or pain should consult with their healthcare provider to determine the best course of action.

Signs that Indicate Removal of Sternum Wires is Necessary

Sternal wires are used to hold the separated breastbone together after a major chest surgery like coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), or open-heart surgery. They stay in place permanently, but in some cases, removal may be necessary for various reasons. Below are some signs that indicate the removal of sternum wires is necessary.

  • Pain and Discomfort: One of the top reasons people opt for the removal of sternal wires is because of pain and discomfort. It is common for patients with wires to experience some discomfort during the healing process. Pain and discomfort that persist beyond the initial healing period could mean a need for removal.
  • Infection: Surgical site infections can occur after any surgery, including open-chest surgery. In some cases, the infection could be caused by the wires themselves, especially if they cause micro-injuries in the underlying bone, creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. If an infection sets in and is resistant to antibiotics, removal of the wires may be the only solution.
  • Moving Wires: Unstable wires that shift or move within the breastbone can cause constant irritation and discomfort. In some cases, they can also damage the surrounding tissues, which could lead to complications or infection. Moving wires are a sign that removal is necessary, as leaving them could cause further damage.

If you experience any of these signs, it is best to consult with your doctor. They will conduct an evaluation and determine whether removal is necessary based on your specific situation.

Recovering from Sternum Wires Removal Surgery

If you have undergone sternotomy, a surgical procedure in which your chest bone (sternum) is cut to access your heart or lungs, you may have had sternal wires placed to keep your breastbone together during the healing process. While these wires are necessary for your recovery, you may need to have them removed if they cause discomfort, pain, or infection. If your doctor recommends sternal wire removal surgery, you may be wondering about the recovery process.

  • Wound Healing: After the removal of sternal wires, you will have small incisions on your chest. Your doctor will apply a dressing over the incision areas to keep them clean and dry. The dressing will need to be changed regularly to prevent infection. It is crucial to follow your doctor’s instructions on the care of the incision sites and to keep them clean to allow proper healing.
  • Pain Management: Pain is common after sternal wire removal surgery, but your doctor will prescribe pain medications to relieve the discomfort. You should take the medication as directed and report any breakthrough pain to your doctor. It is also essential to avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, or any activity that puts pressure on your chest for several weeks after surgery.
  • Physical Therapy: Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist to help you with gentle exercises to regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion after surgery. The therapist will provide you with a personalized exercise plan that meets your specific needs. You will need to follow the physical therapy plan diligently to achieve optimal results.

During the recovery period, you should eat a healthy diet rich in nutrients to promote healing and avoid smoking as it slows down the healing process. The length of recovery depends on individual circumstances and your overall health. You should consult your doctor for any concerns regarding your recovery process.

Complications and Risks Associated with Sternal Wire Removal Surgery

Like any surgical procedure, sternal wire removal surgery has risks associated with it. The potential risks include wound infection, bleeding, pneumonia, chest pain, heart attack, and nerve damage.

The complications of sternal wire removal surgery are rare but can be serious. If you experience severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, fever, chills, or feel unwell, you should contact your doctor immediately.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor without further ado:

– Redness, swelling, or drainage from the surgical wound
– An increase in pain, bleeding, or fever
– Difficulty breathing, wheezing, or chest pain
– Numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, or chest
– Dizziness or fainting

Signs of Complications after Sternal Wire Removal Surgery Action
Increased Pain Contact your doctor right away
Fever Contact your doctor right away
Worsening Shortness of Breath Contact your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately
Chest Pain or Pressure Contact your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately

Recovering from sternal wire removal surgery requires patience, care, and attention. By following your doctor’s instructions, giving yourself enough rest, and adhering to proper nutrition, your recovery will be less complicated and faster, and the incision sites will heal properly.

Comparison of Traditional and Modern Sternal Closure Techniques

Sternal closure is a critical component of many surgeries, including open-heart surgeries or thoracotomies. Traditional sternal closure techniques, involving the use of sternal wires, have been in use for years, but modern techniques have emerged that offer increased stability and reduced complications.

  • Traditional Technique: The traditional technique involves the use of stainless steel wires that are twisted together and tied to secure the sternum. While this technique is simple and easy to perform, it has several drawbacks.
  • Modern Technique: The modern technique involves the use of rigid fixation devices such as titanium plates and screws or interlocking stainless steel plates. These devices allow for more secure fixation of the sternum and reduce the risk of complications.
  • Advantages of Modern Technique: The modern technique has several advantages over traditional techniques. It allows for more secure fixation of the sternum, reduces the risk of sternal dehiscence, and can lead to a quicker recovery time for patients.

Despite the advantages of modern techniques, some surgeons still prefer traditional techniques due to their familiarity and ease of use. However, it is important for patients to be aware of the options available to them and to discuss the pros and cons of each technique with their surgeon before undergoing surgery.

Technique Advantages Disadvantages
Traditional Simple and easy to perform Increased risk of sternal dehiscence, longer recovery time
Modern More secure fixation, reduced risk of complications, quicker recovery time Requires specialized training and equipment, may be more expensive

Overall, while traditional sternal closure techniques may still be used in some cases, modern techniques offer more secure fixation and reduced complications for patients undergoing open-heart surgeries or thoracotomies.

Lifestyle Modifications after Sternum Wires Removal

It is important to follow certain lifestyle modifications after having your sternal wires removed to promote healing and prevent complications. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you during your recovery:

  • Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for at least six weeks following sternum wire removal to prevent strain on the chest muscles and avoid any undue stress on the sternum.
  • Gradually increase your physical activity level as directed by your surgeon, starting with light exercises such as walking and stretching, then progressing to more challenging activities over time.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes and consuming alcohol, as they can impair the body’s ability to heal and lead to complications.

In addition to these lifestyle modifications, it is important to follow a healthy diet that includes ample amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals to support healing. Some foods that are beneficial during the recovery process include lean meats, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

Your surgeon may also recommend certain pain management techniques during your recovery, such as over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed medications. It is important to follow your surgeon’s instructions for pain management and avoid overexerting yourself, which can delay the healing process.

Activity Timeframe
Light exercise (walking, stretching) 1-2 weeks
Moderate exercise (yoga, cycling) 2-4 weeks
Strenuous exercise (weightlifting, contact sports) 4-6 weeks

By following these lifestyle modifications and other guidelines recommended by your surgeon, you can ensure a safe and successful recovery after having your sternal wires removed. Remember that everyone’s recovery process is unique, so be sure to consult your surgeon with any questions or concerns you may have.

Best Practices for Taking Care of Your Sternum after the Wires are Removed

After having your sternal wires removed, you may feel relieved and excited to resume your normal activities. However, it is important to take proper care of your sternum to avoid any complications and ensure a smooth recovery. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions: Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions on how to care for your sternum after the wires are removed. It is important to follow these instructions carefully to avoid any damage to your sternum and to promote healing.
  • Avoid strenuous activities: Give your sternum time to heal by avoiding any activities that may put strain on it. This includes heavy lifting, intense exercise, and anything else that may cause your chest muscles to contract.
  • Maintain good posture: Poor posture can put unnecessary strain on your chest muscles and sternum. To avoid this, make sure to sit and stand up straight, and avoid slouching.

It is important to take proper care of your sternum to avoid any complications and ensure a smooth recovery. Here are some additional best practices:

1. Keep the area clean and dry: Keep the area around your sternum clean and dry to avoid any infection. You can clean the area with mild soap and water or as recommended by your doctor. Avoid using any harsh chemicals or products that may irritate the skin.

2. Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes: Tight-fitting clothes can put pressure on your chest muscles and sternum, which can be uncomfortable and slow down the healing process. Wear loose and comfortable clothing instead.

3. Use pillows to support your chest: To avoid any discomfort when lying down, use pillows to support your chest and keep it elevated. This can also help with breathing and promote proper circulation.

Activity Timeframe
Returning to work 1-2 weeks
Driving 2-4 weeks
Exercise 4-6 weeks

It is important to remember that everyone’s recovery process is different, and you should always consult your doctor if you have any concerns or questions. By following these best practices, you can ensure a safe and successful recovery after having your sternal wires removed.

Should I Have My Sternal Wires Removed FAQs

1. What are sternal wires?

Sternal wires are used to hold the breastbone in place after surgery. These wires are usually made of stainless steel or titanium and are placed during cardiac surgery.

2. Why would I need to have my sternal wires removed?

Your doctor may recommend removing your sternal wires if they are causing pain, discomfort, or if you have a high risk of infection. If the wires are poking through your skin or causing a visible bulge, these may also be reasons for removal.

3. What are the risks associated with sternal wire removal?

The risks of sternal wire removal are generally low. However, there is a small risk of complications such as bleeding, infection, and damage to surrounding tissues.

4. How is sternal wire removal performed?

Sternal wire removal is a minimally invasive procedure that is usually done under local anesthesia. Your surgeon will make a small incision on your breastbone and remove the wires carefully.

5. What is the recovery time after sternal wire removal?

The recovery time for sternal wire removal is usually short. You should be able to go home the same day and resume your regular activities within a few days.

6. Will my chest be sore after sternal wire removal?

You may feel some discomfort or soreness in your chest after sternal wire removal, but this should improve within a few days. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication to help manage any discomfort.

7. Can sternal wires be left in place indefinitely?

Sternal wires are designed to be left in place indefinitely and do not need to be removed unless there is a medical reason to do so.

Closing: Thanks for Reading!

We hope that this article has helped to answer some of your questions about sternal wire removal. If you are experiencing discomfort or have concerns about your sternal wires, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Remember that everyone’s situation is unique, and your doctor can help you determine the best course of action for your individual needs. Thanks for reading, and please visit again later for more helpful health information!