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Sternal issues post-op (years after surgery)

I had open-heart surgery when I was a teenager (10 years ago) to correct a large ASD (gortex patch sewn in). My sternum has "clicked"  ever since. It does it a least once or twice a day. At first I thought it was just because my sternum wasn't quite together. Then later I though maybe it was muscle or something popping over the wires(?). And for the rest of the years I just sort of shrugged it off because... everything must have healed by now.

However, about a week ago, I was in the process of sitting down on the floor and I heard (and felt) a 'CRACK' around the sternal angle (maybe a little below). I sort of just dropped to the ground (I was on my way, anyway) and was sort of frozen - little afraid to move for a second. It's been kind of uncomfortable ever since. A pressure on the sternum, uncomfortable to sleep on my side unless I'm hugging a blanket or something to my sternum. Seems okay in the morning but gets worse throughout the day.

I've read about sternal non-union and stuff like that, but is that even an issue after 10 years?? I don't want to go to the doctor if I've just pulled something. Are 'clicks' normal? Is there any reason to be concerned about my sternum this long after the surgery?

Thanks so much!
Jenn
1 Responses
367994 tn?1304957193
When the sternum is involved costochondritis it can be an inflammation of the cartilage connecting to your breastbone. It's a common cause of chest pain. Mild to severe pain, tenderness and soreness near the breastbone (usually the upper left side) are symptoms, and the pain gets worse if you stretch or apply pressure to the area.  That should be ruled out as the cause and seems unlikely due to the "popping" sensation.

Tietze Syndrome, on the other hand, is associated with swellings at the rib-cartilage junction, and lasts longer. (Costochondritis has no noticeable swelling.) Neither condition involves pus or abscess formation. Tietze syndrome usually affects the bone-cartilage junctions of the second and third ribs. The swelling may last for several months. The syndrome can develop as a complication of surgery on your sternum, months to years after the operation. However, the cause is usually unknown.

It could be the breast bone has not completely heeled and has been aggravated from time to time and now causing the pain.  Seems unlikely after so many years, but it is possible.


Tietze syndrome usually affects the bone-cartilage junctions of the second and third ribs. The swelling may last for several months. The syndrome can develop as a complication of surgery on your sternum, months to years after the operation. However, the cause is usually unknown.

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