Painful chest wall after heart surgery

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Submitted by Dr T on December 30, 2012 – 9:19am

Question: 
Had triple bypass in 02/11.  Having left chest pain. Can get pretty uncomfortable!  Been to Doc’s, stress test, eckgs. He thought it was the wires, had some removed, still having pain. Comes and goes.  I hear alot about nerve damage etc. Any suggestions Would be wonderful 

Assuming your heart is now OK, though rare, post-sternotomy pain can be a real problem. Sternal wires are used to put your sternum back together at the end of the operation. If related to them, palpating them from the outside is usually tender. Suregons use about six wires, thus there can be as many as six places where this can be the case. Unless all wires were removed, it is possible that there are still some left behind causing pain.

By now your sternum has fully healed (although there is a possibility of so-called non-union), thus all wires can be safely removed. For more specific recommendations I would need to examine you, obviously not possible.  My recommendation: go back to your CT surgeon!

Hope this helps,
Dr T

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