Ectopic position of a fractured sternal wire fragment

By Amy B. Coleman, MD, and Tom Cole, MD
Ectopic position of a fractured sternal wire fragment </<span class="end-tag" />P
No wire markers were described on the technician&rsquo;s standard mammographic questionnaire. On questioning the technician, the absence of wire markers was con&#64257;rmed. The technician did, however, report a long mid-line scar over the sternum. The patient was then contacted to ask about any history of chest trauma and/or surgeries. The patient denied any history of injury to her chest. She also denied any history of left breast pain. She did report a relatively recent coronary artery bypass graft surgery after which she recovered with minimal complications. On further evaluation of the left craniocaucal and left mediolateral oblique images, it was determined that the wire was in the central middle third of the left breast. No associated architectural distortion or masses were noted. The patient&rsquo;s prior chest X-rays, mammograms, and chest computed tomograms were then reviewed. A 2001 screening mammogram (Figure 2) and a preoperative chest X-ray (Figure 3) revealed no such metallic density in the region of the left breast. Postoperative chest X-rays (Figure 4) showed 4 unremarkable sternal wires and a small left pleural effusion. </<span class="end-tag" />P

>Seven months later, the patient&rsquo;s effusion had increased and a CT-guided percutaneous drainage was required. On the images from this procedure, the inferior-most wire was noted to be fractured posteriorly (Figure 5). A fragment was identi&#64257;ed that extended antero-laterally toward the left breast. </<span class="end-tag" />P

>Approximately 1 month later, a follow-up CT examination of the chest was performed (Figure 6). On the scout image (Figure 6A), the wire could be seen in the left breast. However, this was not noted on the initial examination, as it was not in the &#64257;eld of view of the axial images. </<span class="end-tag" />P

>At this point, the cardiothoracic surgery service was contacted for further evaluation of the patient. The cardiothoracic surgeon reviewed the case and sent the patient to the breast surgery clinic. The breast surgeons recontacted our department to set up needle localization for excision of the wire. Six months after the follow-up CT study, we localized the wire using a standard technique. At surgery, a 3.2-cm wire was removed without incident (Figure 7). </<span class="end-tag" />P
In recent medical literature, there have been many diverse cases of migration of fractured sternal and other surgical wires in the chest.<Sup>1,2 </<span class="end-tag" />Sup>These were usually described as traversing an internally directed course, such as those that eventually impinged on and/or penetrated various cardiac chambers,<Sup>3 </<span class="end-tag" />Sup>great vessels,<Sup>4 </<span class="end-tag" />Sup>or the pleural cavity.<Sup>5 </<span class="end-tag" />Sup>The case reported here appears unique in this respect. </<span class="end-tag" />P
><p><B>CONCLUSION </<span class="end-tag" />B></<span class="end-tag" />p><P

>In this case, the fractured sternal wire was migrating peripherally into the breast, where it was removed without complication. However, a unidirectional migration path does not encompass all wayward wires. Thus, removal at the time of detection appears most prudent.

>Kopans DB. Breast Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Lippincott-Raven; 1998:369. </<span class="end-tag" />LI

>Cardenosa G. The Core Curriculum:Breast Imaging. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams &amp; Wilkins; 2004:352. </<span class="end-tag" />LI

>Schref&#64258;er AJ, Rumisek JD. Intravascular migration of fractured sternal wire presenting with hemoptysis. Ann Thorac Surg. 2001;71:1682-1684. </<span class="end-tag" />LI

>Kao CL, Chang JP. Aortic graft pseudoaneurysm secondary to fracture of sternal wires. Tex Heart Inst J. 2003;30:240-242. </<span class="end-tag" />LI

>Radich GA, Altinok D, Silva J. Marked migration of sternotomy wires: A case report. J Thoracic Imaging. 2004;19:117-119 Back To Top

Ectopic position of a fractured sternal wire fragment.  Appl Radiol. 

September 19, 2007
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