Computed tomographic evaluation of retrosternal adhesions after pericardial substitution

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Reoperative median sternotomy can result in cardiac injury and serious bleeding, with the rate ranging from 2% to 6%. Closure of the native pericardium can maintain a preventing plane of cleavage. In patients in whom primary pericardial closure is not possible, several substitutes have been tried with variable results. We conducted a prospective study to evaluate the clinical feasibility of polytetrafluoroethylene and polyglycolic acid patches as pericardial substitutes, using computed tomography for imaging the postoperative state of the retrosternal space.


The basic population comprised 540 patients who were scheduled for coronary artery bypass grafting, and 52 of them who met the research criteria were chosen for computed tomographic evaluation after 5 years after the primary operation.


As a substitute, polytetrafluoroethylene seemed to be less adhesive to the posterior surface of the sternum. Total adhesion scores were also statistically significant (p < 0.001) to the advantage of polytetrafluoroethylene over polyglycolic acid as a pericardial substitute.


Polytetrafluoroethylene membrane seems to be capable of minimizing retrosternal adhesion formation and thus it may protect the heart during subsequent reoperative sternotomy.

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