Imagine surviving a bad car accident but living in pain for months, sometimes years.
That excruciating pain plagues many of the 250,000 people a year who suffer rib fractures, the most common chest injury. Many of these patients need hospitalization for medical treatment, surgery and pain.
Now they can get the care they need in one place: the new CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center – Bergan Mercy Chest Wall Reconstruction Center.
What is the Chest Wall?
The chest wall is a kind of protective "cage" that protects the heart, lungs, liver and other organs. It can be damaged through trauma, infection or disease and the patient can experience anything from difficulty performing day-to-day activities because of agonizing pain to life-threatening complications.
Reconstruction repairs damage to the wall. One of the more common procedures is rib fixation, or "rib plating."
Multidisciplinary Team Means Better Outcomes
At the new center, patients are treated by a multidisciplinary team that includes trauma surgeons who have years of experience with chest wall reconstruction.
"We appreciate the challenges that patients with rib fractures have getting back to their daily routine," said CHI Health Trauma Surgeon Michel Wagner, MD. "So we put together a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals to optimize the recovery of these patients."
Others on the team who use state-of-the-art techniques to both ease pain and save lives include:
- Anesthesiologists who assist with pain management before, during and after surgery. Broken ribs, for example, can be very painful and can interfere with breathing.
- Physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists. Early intervention at the center will help patients tremendously. Patients who have rib plating are more able to participate in rehabilitation, he said, and to recover faster.
- Respiratory therapists, also vital members of the team, who assist patients in maximizing their pulmonary function -- how well their lungs are working.
The Level I Trauma Center team is studying how to optimize patient care. Several on the team are members of the Chest Wall Injury Society and work closely with other physicians around the world to assess techniques and protocols. The team is looking for different imaging modalities and how 3-dimensional printing of rib fractures can assist in planning for surgery.
The Center is open at Creighton University Medical Center – Bergan Mercy, 7500 Mercy Road, and welcomes referrals. For more information, call (402) 717-5555.