Surgical Repair of a Congenital Sternal Cleft in a Cat

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To describe the clinical findings, diagnosis, and treatment of an incomplete cleft of the 5th–8th sternebra and a cranioventral abdominal wall hernia in a 2 month old Ragdoll kitten and to evaluate the short- and long-term outcome.

Study Design:

Clinical report.


Ragdoll cat (n = 1), 2 months old.


Sternal cleft was confirmed by thoracic radiographs. Computed tomography (CT) was used to plan an optimal surgical approach. A ventral median incision was made, starting at the 3rd sternebra and extended into the abdomen. Ostectomy of the proximal part of the 5th left sternebra was performed. Lateral periosteal flaps were created, unfolded, and absorbable monofilament sutures preplaced to facilitate closure and the repair was reinforced by 2 peristernal sutures. A bone graft was applied, and the free margin of the omentum was sutured to the cranial aspect of the wound.


No major complications occurred. At 3 weeks, CT scan confirmed approximation of the hemisternebrae and at 10 months, complete fusion of the hemisternebrae had not occurred, but a strong connection of the sternal bars was present.


Sternal cleft is a rare congenital abnormality that can be corrected surgically with favorable outcome.

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