A sternotomy is a procedure that is performed to begin open-heart surgery. The sternum (or breastbone) lies vertically in the chest and connects to the collar bones and cartilaginous portions of the ribs. A sternotomy is performed to gain access to the heart inside the chest cavity. An incision is made along the center of the chest. The sternum (breastbone) is then divided vertically and the rib cage is spread open. This allows access to the heart which lies just below the sternum. Following the procedure the rib cage is closed and the sternum halves are fixed together in their original position.


©2022 All rights reserved. creates and licenses medical illustrations and animations for educational use. Our goal is to increase your understanding of medical terminology and help communication between patients, caregiver and healthcare professionals. The content in the Media Library is for your information and education purposes only. The Media Library is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment for specific medical conditions.


All Topics