Rib fixation or open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of the rib is a surgical procedure to stabilize the rib. It is performed to treat patients with rib fractures.
We perform the operation by localizing the site of the rib fracture often with VERAN SpinPerc protocol. We make an incision over the fractured rib and ease the fracture back in line. Afterward, we place a Synthes MatrixRIB plate on the rib and secure it with screws. We leave a drain at the site to remove fluid from the surgical site.
Overall, the risks of the operation are very low. With any operation, there is a risk of injuring any structure that we operate around including the lung. Other risks include bleeding and infection at the surgical site.
Hospital Stay: 2-3 Days
After the operation, the patient goes to a recovery area called PACU or post-anesthesia care unit. Once the patient recovers from anesthesia, the patient is admitted to the floor. On average, patients are in the hospital for two to three nights. Patients start a regular diet during the night of the surgery along with pre-emptive pain control with around the clock pain medication. Every day, the drain will be evaluated to determine if the tube can be safely removed. Once the patient’s drain is removed with good pain control, they are ready to continue the recovery at home.
We advise our patients to stay ahead of the pain with pre-emptive pain control. Instead of taking pain medication after having pain, we ask patients to take pain medication in regular intervals. The typical regimen for post-operative pain medication is:
3 days of Aleve (Naprosyn) 1 tab two times a day
5 days of Tylenol (Acetaminophen) 1 g three times a day
7 days of Neurontin (Gabapentin) 300 mg three times a day.
After 7 days, take Tylenol as needed. If this regimen is not adequate to control pain, we ask patients to call our office.
In order to further help with recovery from surgery, we advise patients to walk at least three times a day, work on the incentive spirometer, and sit in a chair for at least 6 hours a day for about a week after the surgery. We advise patients to avoid heavy lifting for 6 weeks. As long as the patient is not on narcotic pain medication, it is safe to drive.