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Migrated fractured sternal wire in proximity to the main pulmonary artery: Case report and review

Posted by Dr. James Fraser, submitted by K Whitehouse on March 3, 2020 in Cardiac
Sample image of fractured sternal wire
Sample image of fractured sternal wire

Dr. James Fraser presented a case of a migrated sternal wire. See full text


Background: We present a case of a 83-year-old man with a prior history of coronary artery bypass who presented to his family physician with progressive symptoms that raised concern for heart failure exacerbation. A chest X-ray was performed, which showed a fractured topmost sternal wire in the lateral projection and indicated that the sternal wire had migrated into the anterior mediastinum. An emergent electrocardiogram-gated flash computed tomography angiography confirmed the location of the fractured wire to be in close proximity to the main pulmonary artery. A discussion of migrated sternal wires with a literature review of cases is provided as well.

Aims: To present a case of a migrated sternal wire and a literature review.

Methods: An extensive literature review using pubmed and medline with relevant keywords was preformed.

Results: 11 known cases of migrated sternal wires with various complications, as detailed in the review table. The mortality rate is low but can be associated with significant morbidity.

Discussion: Fractured wires are quite common and are usually a benign radiographic finding. However, migration of sternal wires is an extremely rare phenomenon. Only a few reported cases in the literature were sternal wires have migrated beyond the sternum, leading to catastrophic clinical consequences, as detailed in the review table.

Conclusion: Sternal wire complications secondary to migration beyond the sternum are rare but potentially fatal. Precise wire location and risk assessment with CT are more appropriate when wire location cannot be clearly delineated by plain film radiography.

Keywords: imaging; sternum; surgery.


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