New technique for fractured ribs

Standard treatment is to just leave rib fractures alone and wait until the bones heal, but this can be very painful and take a long time.

February 21, 2016 01:15
3 minute read.

Pills. (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)

An innovative operation to set rib fractures was recently carried out in the orthopedic department of Beersheba’s Soroka University Medical Center with the cooperation of the cardiothoracic surgery department. The broken ribs were set using special screws and titanium plates anatomically suited to the ribs.

Standard treatment is to just leave rib fractures alone and wait until the bones heal, but this can be very painful and take a long time.

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In the new procedure, the titanium plates have a thin profile so they don’t interfere with movement of the bones during breathing, reports Synthes, the company that developed the technology. Patients around the world who undergo rib setting after serious injury have been found to be free of respirators much earlier, to suffer from fewer complications and incidences of death, and to spend less time in intensive care.

One Soroka patient who underwent the procedure recently was a 42-year-old man who was involved in a serious road accident. The man suffered multi-system damage and was anesthetized and attached to a respirator. Two days after the operation, he was already disconnected from ventilation and sent to the orthopedics department for recovery.

A 73-year-old woman who suffered numerous spinal and rib fractures in a road accident – in addition to a chronic lung disease – was disconnected from her respirator very quickly after the innovative operation and later discharged for rehabilitation. A third patient, a 71-year-old man, fell at home and was seriously hurt in his chest, with bleeding, a hole in his lung, and “flail chest” damage when the chest wall on the left side collapsed into the thoracic cavity. In this case too, the patient’s recovery was speedy, as he was disconnected from his respirator and became fully conscious after undergoing the rib surgery.

Dr. Asaf Acker, a senior Soroka orthopedist, studied the procedure at a hospital in Oxford. In the past, when such patients suffered broken ribs and other damage, he said, they received more conservative treatment, and many developed flail chest. They were hospitalized in intensive care for many days because of respiratory complications.

“The new technique has almost immediate benefits, and their conditions improve more rapidly. We are proud to be among the first in Israel to apply it.”


For half a century, research on happiness has shown our lives on a U-shaped curve, punctuated by a low point that we’ve come to know as the mid-life crisis.

A number of studies have claimed over the years that happiness declines for most from the early 20s to middle age (40 to 60). Today, the mid-life crisis is a generally accepted phenomenon, fodder for sitcoms and the subject of advertising propaganda the world over – but does it actually exist? The answer is no, according to “Up, Not Down: The Age Curve in Happiness from Early Adulthood to Midlife in Two Longitudinal Studies” – a paper recently published in Developmental Psychology and based on data drawn from two longitudinal studies by University of Alberta researchers Prof. Nancy Galambos, Dr. Harvey Krahn and their team.

Contrary to previous cross-sectional studies of lifespan happiness, this new longitudinal data suggests happiness does not stall in midlife, but instead is part of an upward trajectory beginning in our teens and early 20s. According to Galambos and Krahn, this study is far more reliable than the research that came before it.

“I’m not trashing cross-sectional research, but if you want to see how people change as they get older, you have to measure the same individuals over time,” sociologist Krahn said.

The team followed two groups – one of Canadian high school seniors from ages 18 to 43 and the other a group of university seniors from ages 23 to 37. Both segments showed that happiness increased into the 30s, with a slight downturn by age 43 in the high school sample.

After accounting for variations in participants’ lives, such as changes in marital status and employment, both samples still demonstrated a general rise in happiness after high school and university.

Galambos said it is crucial information, because happiness is important, associated with lifespan and overall well-being.

“We want people to be happier so that they have an easier life trajectory,” she said, “and also, they cost less to the health system and society.”

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