Reconstruction of the sternum and chest wall with methyl methacrylate: CT and MRI appearance
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The aim of our study was to define the appearance of methyl methacrylate grafts replacing resected sternum and ribs on CT and MRI and how the sternal graft may mimic an abnormally sclerotic sternum on CT images. We reviewed the CT scans of nine patients who had undergone chest wall resection (eight with malignant and one with benign disease) and reconstruction with a composite of methyl methacrylate and Marlex mesh graft. One of them had an MRI study as well. The size, shape and CT attenuation were assessed on mediastinal and bone window settings. The sternal graft was seen on mediastinal and even better on bone windows as an abnormally wide, irregularly shaped structure, somewhat denser than the normal sternum. The chest wall prosthesis replacing resected ribs was seen as a continuous dense structure and of similar attenuation as that of the sternal graft. On MRI the prosthesis appeared as a well-defined structure with no signal. Reconstruction of the chest wall with methyl methacrylate appears on CT as a diffusely dense sclerotic bone lesion not unlike a malignant lesion. The possibility of a graft has to be included in the differential diagnosis in these cases.
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