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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Journal of Medical Case Reports, Volume 12, Issue 1, February 2018, Article number 49

The published version is available at . Copyright © Takeshita et al.


BACKGROUND: Although median sternotomy is standard during cardiac surgery, the procedure is associated with a risk of injury to mediastinal organs. Here, we discuss two cases of tracheal injury following median sternotomy during cardiac surgery.

CASE PRESENTATION: Ventilation failure occurred in a 78-year-old Japanese man and a 71-year-old Japanese man after median sternotomy, and tracheal injury was identified. The sites of injury were directly repaired and covered with mediastinal fat tissue, following which ventilation was successful. The burn-like deposits observed at the site of tracheal injury and on the removed endotracheal tube support the notion that the injuries in our patients were caused by electrocautery prior to median sternotomy. In one case, short sternotracheal distance may have contributed to tracheal injury during post-sternal manipulation. In both cases, the relative inexperience of both surgeons also supports the suspected cause of injury.

CONCLUSIONS: Tracheal injury represents a potential complication following median sternotomy, especially when performed by inexperienced surgeons or in cases of short sternotracheal distance. Anesthesiologists should consider this rare yet potentially lethal complication.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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