Thousands of people suffer from
broken ribs every year as a result
of falls, road accidents, horse-riding
accidents and sports injuries. Until
recently, there has been limited
treatment available for broken ribs.
The traditional technique involves
strapping up the ribs, prescribing
painkillers and leaving them to heal.
A surgical procedure, the Synthes
Rib Matrix, is now available to fix rib
fractures at London Bridge Hospital.
The technique, which is used within
orthopaedics in the NHS, is used by
the London BridgeThoracic Group
and has transformed the recovery
from broken ribs.
The Synthes Rib Matrix technology
stabilises the fracture and pulls the ribs
back into place. During the two-hour
operation, the surgeon makes a small
incision and inserts tailor-made metal
plates, sculpted to fit the anatomical
contours of the rib. Each metal plate
is ten millimetres wide and varies in
length from five centimetres to 15
centimetres, depending on the size of
the patient’s rib. The plates are pinned
Synthes rib matrix
Synthes Rib Matrix surgical procedure
now available at London Bridge Hospital.
Mr Thomas Routledge
Consultant Thoracic Surgeon
MA BM BCh FRCS CTh
Secretary: Jackie Lee
T: 020 7234 2804
F: 020 7234 2481
to the broken bones to hold them
in place, which speeds up the healing
process and alleviates pain, allowing
patients to get back to normal life
Patients are in a much-improved
condition 24 to 48 hours after the
operation, and are normally able to leave
hospital within a couple of days. Pain
tends to last a few days as opposed to
weeks or months, as associated with
traditional treatment for rib fractures.
A 59-year-old female horse rider presented with seven broken ribs and several flailed
ribs one month after a serious horse-riding accident. Following unsuccessful treatment
at her local hospital, where her ribs were left to heal by themselves, she was still in
Clinical examination revealed that her ribs had shown little improvement a month after
her accident, so it was recommended that she was treated with the Synthes Rib Matrix
to repair her rib fractures. During the operation, each of the seven ribs and tailor-made
plates were attached together with screws to hold the bones in place.
Following almost a month of pain from her rib fractures, the patient was pain-free soon
after undergoing the Synthes Rib Matrix and, although she was still in recovery, she was
able to return to her normal routine. Six months later, she was able to start horse-riding
again, which is something she never thought she would be able to do before her operation.
Mr Routledge attended medical
school at Cambridge and then
Oxford University, where he won
scholarships in medical science.
His initial surgical education was in
London, followed by five years at
Papworth Hospital, Cambridge – a
national specialist training centre in
chest surgery. He trained in both
cardiac and thoracic surgery, and
was awarded medals by The Royal
College of Surgeons for excellence
as a trainee surgeon. Pursuing a
particular interest in treating cancers
with surgery, he then studied for a
year at Memorial Sloan-Kettering
Cancer Centre in NewYork, one of
the world’s acknowledged leaders in
cancer operations. During this time,
he learned a number of advanced
techniques in treating lung cancer
and mesothelioma to bring back to
his Consultant practice in the UK.
He is an NHS Consultant at Guy’s