Randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that surgical stabilization of rib fractures (SSRF) in selected trauma patients is associated with potential benefits. This study evaluates the real-world outcomes of SSRF since its implementation at Westmead Hospital, Australia. We hypothesize these outcomes to be similar to that reported by best-evidence in the literature.
A retrospective analysis of data on all consecutive SSRF performed between January 2013 to December 2018 was completed.
Sixty-three patients (54 male; average age 55.9 ± 14.1 y) with median ISS 24 (IQR 17;30) underwent SSRF. Thirty-seven patients were admitted to Intensive Care Unit (ICU), with median ICU length of stay (LOS) 10.0 (5.0-17.0) d. Median hospital LOS was 15.5 (10.0-24.8) d. Fifty-five (87.3%) patients did not have any surgery-specific complications. The highest observed surgical morbidity was wound infection (n = 4, 4.7%). There was one mortality after rib fixation that was not related to surgery. SSRF within 3 d of hospital presentation in ventilated patients with flail chest was associated with significantly reduced median ICU LOS (3.0 [2.0;4.0] versus 10.0 [9.3;13.0] d; P = 0.03). Early (2013-2015) versus late (2015-2018) phase SSRF implementation demonstrated no significant difference in outcome variables.
Experience with SSRF demonstrates early outcomes similar to best-evidence in the existing literature. As a quality assurance tool, ongoing evaluation of real-world data is needed to ensure that outcomes remain consistent with benchmarks available from best-evidence.

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