PHOENIX (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Cadaveric allograft sternal replacement has proven to be safe, providing optimal stability to the chest wall and protection of surrounding organs, an analysis of 18 cases demonstrated.

“The allograft was biologically well tolerated, allowing a perfect integration into the host,” Dr. Giuseppe Marulli said at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. “Donor cryopreserved sternochondral allograft may become the ideal way for anterior chest wall reconstruction, particularly for wide resections.”

Dr. Marulli, a thoracic surgeon at the University of Padova, Italy, noted that prior experimental studies have demonstrated that cryopreserved bone allografts preserve osteoconduction and osteoinduction capacity ( Eur Spine J. 2001 Oct;10:S96-101 ). “Therefore, they form the basis for new bone tissue formation, allowing for the capillary and perivascular blood supply,” he said.

Limitations of current materials used for sternal reconstruction include “excessive rigidity with risk of erosion and insufficient support for large chest wall defects,” he said. Perceived advantages of using cadaveric bone allograft include easy incorporation, no risk of rejection, and a low risk of infection. For each procedure used in the current analysis, cadaveric allograft sternums with costal cartilages were harvested with an aseptic method and treated with an antibiotic solution for 72 hours. Next, they were cryopreserved at –80º C and underwent microbiologic testing for at least 1 month to ensure sterility and absence of immunogenic capacity.

Dr. Marulli reported results from 18 patients who underwent the procedure between January 2009 and January 2015, 13 of whom were female. Their median age was 59 years, their median tumor diameter was 4.75 cm, most (88%) had undergone preoperative needle biopsy, and 50% had undergone induction therapy. The main indication for sternectomy was a single-site sternal metastasis (nine patients), primary chondrosarcoma (four cases), sternal dehiscence after cardiac surgery (two cases), malignant fibrous tumor (one case), radioinduced soft-tissue sarcoma (one case), and a thymic carcinoma invading the sternum (one case).

All patients were extubated in the OR, and one patient died in the hospital from a pulmonary embolism. Two patients (11%) developed postoperative complications: one case of Candida urinary infection and one case of bleeding at the site of the muscle flap. The median postoperative length of stay was 11 days.

To date, no infections or rejections of the grafts have occurred, Dr. Marulli said. After a median of 36 months, 13 patients are alive and 4 are dead (3 from a metastatic recurrence and 1 from an unrelated cause). One patient required removal of a clavicular screw for dislocation 4 months after the operation.

Dr. Marulli reported having no financial disclosures.