New system helps heal broken ribs faster

New system helps heal broken ribs faster


by Katherine Cook

Bio | Email | Follow: @KCookKGW

Posted on February 23, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 23 at 1:01 PM

CORBETT, Ore. -- On his lush Corbett farm, it's clear that 48-year-old Leland Tash loves life.

"Never give up, that's my motto," he says.

But what isn't so clear is how close Tash came to losing his life just months ago.

"I had a motorcycle accident," Tash says. "I crashed, is what they said in the police report."

It was a dewy September morning. Tash was on his way to work when he came around a blind corner to find a utility truck in his way. Tash tipped his bike, skidded 200 feet and woke up at Legacy Emanuel hospital three weeks later.

"There are twelve ribs on each side and he broke each of those in two places," said trauma surgeon, Dr. Steven Madey. He said Tash's had been the worst case of broken ribs he had ever seen.

"If you break a segment of ribs, you lose that integrity so when you take a breath then the ribs collapse on themselves," he explained. "That's called a flailed chest."

Tash's wife, Susan, said on the day of the accident, doctors told her about a new procedure that they wanted to try on him.

"They said it would reconstruct his ribs like a bird cage," she said. "I said, 'Whatever you gotta do to save my man.'"

So, doctors used the Matrix Rib System on Tash. Madey and Dr. Bill long co-developed the system in Portland, at The Legacy Research Institute. Tash was part of a 20-patient study on the new technology.

The Matrix plates are made out of lightweight titanium and are screwed onto the ribs on each side of the fracture.

"They're kind of like an internal piercing," Madey said.

Over the course of the study, Dr. Madey found that patients who used the rib plates spent half as long in the hospital, less money on their hospital bills, and they healed more comfortably.

"The pain of the rib fracture is one of the worst pains you can feel," said Dr. Madey. "The pain from the break goes down drastically when you use the rib plates."

Tash's quick recovery even surprised doctors, who predicted that it would be two to three years before he would be back to normal.

"Four and a half months later, I went back to work," Tash says.

"It's totally a miracle," his wife adds. "I don't know what else to call it but a miracle and an answer to prayer."