Rib Somatic Dysfunction Among General Surgical Patients

Gerard A. Baltazar, DO; Christine E. Kolwitz, DO; and Michael G. Florek, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: September 27, 2019

Accepted: October 24, 2019

Published: August 7, 2020

J Osteopath Med; 120(9): 590-596

Context: Upper abdominal or chest pain, tenderness, or sensation of the presence of a mass may lead to general surgery (GS) service referral. These symptoms may be related to rib somatic dysfunction (SD).

Objectives: To describe rib SD in the GS setting and help build a foundation for additional osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) research in surgical care.

Methods: The authors retrospectively reviewed and analyzed the electronic medical records of patient encounters in a GS outpatient clinic or private office in Bronx, New York. Included patients had emergency department or inpatient GS consultations with the diagnosis of rib SD (ICD-9 739.8 or ICD-10 M99.08) initially made by the GS service from February 1, 2016, to January 31, 2019. Six-month follow-up data were also reviewed.

Results: Twelve patients had rib SD as the underlying cause of their chief concern upon presentation to the GS service. Only 1 also had an underlying operative GS disease. The GS service treated 11 patients (91.7%) with OMT; 1 patient refused OMT. Time spent on OMT ranged from 5 to 30 minutes, with a median of 10 minutes and a mean (SD) of 12.7 (9.05) minutes. The OMT techniques used included balanced ligamentous tension, counterstrain, muscle energy, myofascial release, rib-raising, and soft tissue. All patients who received OMT demonstrated improvement, and 3 patients required osteopathic manipulative medicine/neuromuscular medicine follow-up.

Conclusions: Rib somatic dysfunction may contribute to patient referral to a GS service, and OMT performed by general surgeons may help provide optimal surgical care.

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