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Rib Surgery

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


Broken Ribs

Synthes rib matrix

Synthes Rib Matrix surgical procedure

now available at London Bridge Hospital.

Mr Thomas Routledge

Consultant Thoracic Surgeon


Guy’s Hospital

Secretary: Jackie Lee

T: 020 7234 2804

F: 020 7234 2481


[email protected]

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

within days.

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.

Case Study

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

unbearable pain.

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

Hospital, London.


Rib Surgery