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Category: Awards and Recognition

Surgeons First in State to Perform Minimally Invasive Procedure


New Surgery Promises Shorter Recovery and Less Pain for Some Rib Fractures

Recently, Dr. Graydon Stallard and Dr. Anthony Raspanti of CaroMont Surgical Associates became the first surgeons in North Carolina to perform a minimally invasive procedure to repair a patient’s fractured ribs. Performed at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia, the innovative surgery, called Thoracoscopic Assisted Rib Plating (TARP), became only the eighteenth case in the world after its recent approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

Used to treat rib fractures that could benefit from surgical stabilization, TARP allows surgeons to implant a permanent steel band on the inside of the rib cage. The band stabilizes the fracture and allows the broken bone to heal quickly.

“Until this new procedure was introduced, the management of most rib fractures had been pain management,” Dr. Stallard explained. “Because your rib cage is affected by breathing, your bones move with every inhalation and exhalation. When you have a broken rib, it is incredibly painful because your body is essentially trying to heal a moving target. It can take several months for a patient to get back to normal, and that means several months of pain and limited range of motion. This new procedure is going to make a significant difference for patients.”

Traditional rib plating surgery was available before TARP but required surgeons to make a large incision to completely expose and treat the broken bone. This very invasive approach carries a higher risk of surgical complications, such as infection and bleeding. Because of this, it was reserved as a last resort to stabilize critically injured patients.

“It’s an injury that trauma surgeons often discuss because, historically, there has not been a good solution.” Dr. Stallard explains. “Imagine you’re the sole bread winner for your family. Imagine living with this pain, not being able to work, and worse, the only relief is to rely on pain medication for months. Most rib fracture patients actually become chronic pain patients. In consideration of the opioid crisis in our county, I’m always looking for ways to reduce unnecessary exposure to narcotic medications.”

TARP finally offers surgeons and their patients a solution to a problem that, previously, did not offer many definitive options for medical intervention. Now, it takes just three small incisions and a small amount of muscle disruption to insert and affix the metal implant to the inside of the rib cage. The implant is permanent and holds up the fractured rib much like an architectural truss, creating a support system that immediately addresses the issue and relieves much of the pain associated with normal breathing and movement.

“It’s so exciting because our patients will have shorter hospital stays and less dependency on pain management,” said Dr. Stallard. “It can help get them back on their feet and back to living their lives faster.”