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Temporary Sternal Spacer

Team Members

John Lisi
Kim Richards


Greg Gdowski, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, CMTI, Amy Lerner, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, CMTI, Marty Gira, Senior Research Engineer, CMTI


Bryan Barrus, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgery, URMC


Various post-operative complications may lead cardiac surgeons to opt for delayed sternal closure following open heart surgeries. Patients’ sterna are left open and they are cared for in the intensive care unit for 1-7 days. In the ICU, bedridden patients are turned to prevent pressure ulcers and for linen changes. During these turns, the sternal halves rotate and twist, potentially leading to injury or death. Our device stabilizes the sternal halves during transport and turning, greatly increasing patient safety.

One of the 2019 CMTI cardiovascular teams attempted to address a similar need related to delayed sternal closure. However, their project focused exclusively on stabilizing the sternum in one dimension, keeping the sternal halves separated during OCM. Their project did not focus on the resulting torsional forces experienced by the sternum during patient rolling and transport. Thus, last year’s final prototype would not solve the need we are presenting, but it offers potential concept ideas to build off of.

infant with an open sternum covered with a sterile occlusive dressing
Hand-cut syringes currently used for DSC (Pye & McDonnell 2010, Critical Care)
Typical protocol for routine patient rolling by CICU nurses (Arjo 2020, “Pressure Ulcer Prevention”)
Device prototype placement between sternal halves (Hambrose, Macaluso, & Mannoh 2019, “BIG Cardiovascular” Sternability Final Report)

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