At-Bristol Science Centre

Question of the fortnight: Using ribs to reconstruct bones

Blogging science to life

Mon 29 March 2010, Written by: Sophina

Do you know why to reconstruct bones after an accident they take some of your ribs?

And why they can go back there and keep taking more?

Question via twitter from @asober

The question that is being asked is about using ribs as donors to replace broken, damaged or diseased bones elsewhere in the body.

Ribs can be used to replace things such as the mandible (jawbone).

Once a whole rib has been removed it will not regrow, if you remove one to three inches of rib it will regrow but will not be usable for bone reconstruction as it will be abnormally shaped.

You can use multiple ribs because there are 24 in total and you can lose portions of less than four without any functional loss.

Mark Yeatman BSc(Hons) MBBS MD FRCS(Eng) FRCs(C/Th)
Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon
University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

Many thanks to @asober for the question, and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust for the answer!

Every fortnight, we are answering your science questions about the human body. It's all part of finding out how amazing you are, in the run up to the opening of our new exhibition All About Us in February 2011.

Do you have a science question about the human body?

Tweet your question to @atbristol using the hashtag #QF and we’ll answer one question every fortnight!

Find out more information about our new exhibition All About Us opening in February 2011

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