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The assessment of round lytic lesions in sternotomies.

OBJECTIVE: The aims of this study were to define imaging findings and to identify any predisposing factors for the development of the round lytic lesion across the margins of sternotomy during the process of bone healing.

METHODS: We searched all chest CT scans performed between 2007 and 2012 and selected patients who had three studies performed in the recent, late and latest post-operative periods. Patients presenting any complications related to wound healing were excluded from the study. CT features of the sternotomy and possible instability factors were assessed.

RESULTS: From 15689 chest CT images analysed, 68 patients fulfilled the criteria. The development of a round lytic lesion was observed in 35 and 39 patients in the late and latest post-operative periods, respectively, and there was an association between mild misalignment of margins in the recent post-operative period and the development of a round lesion in the follow-up periods (p=0.010 and p=0.002, respectively).

CONCLUSION: Sternotomies exhibit a delayed and unusual pattern of bone healing, and minimal instability factors during bone closure could trigger the development of a lytic lesion that is part of the normal healing process.

ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE: This lytic bone lesion is part of the bone healing, and its appearance should not be mistaken as infection or malignancy, even in a suggestive clinical setting.

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