From the beginning of reconstructive and plastic bone surgery ribs have been transplanted not infrequently to promote union between bone fragments, to bring about fusion of adjacent bones and to bridge defects resulting from the loss of substance. Of their use in this latter rôle, Eloesser,1 in 1920, contributed his experience with twenty-two cases involving bones of the extremities. He concluded that rib grafting was a feasible procedure, that ribs are more likely to survive in the presence of infection than the more dense massive grafts, that they are rapidly absorbed, and that they are particularly useful when no great demands are made on the strength of the graft (until replaced by new bone). He also observed that when used to repair large defects or when put under strain they were more prone to refracture than (full thickness) tibial grafts.
The first reference to the use of rib grafts
BISGARD JD. USE OF RIB GRAFTS FOR FUSION OF THE SPINAL COLUMN. Arch Surg. 1933;26(5):796-812. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1933.01170050066005