BACKGROUND: Cardiac nurses instruct women to wear a brassiere (bra) after a sternotomy for cardiac surgery to reduce lateral tension on the wound. However this practice is rarely implemented because regular bras impede nursing care in the immediate postoperative period. The Cardibra was developed to address the inadequacies of the regular bra and provide an alternate method of breast support. AIM: To develop a purpose designed support bra (the Cardibra) and evaluate its effectiveness on sternal wound healing and the reduction of pain for women who had a sternotomy for cardiac surgery. METHODS: The study consisted of two stages. Stage 1 described the development of the Cardibra. Stage 2 was a pilot study of a clinical trial, prospective, randomised two-group design. The treatment group consisted of 10 women using the Cardibra immediately following surgery and the control group of 10 who wore a regular bra 3 days post surgery. Repeated measures at six time points assessed pain levels and wound healing. RESULTS: This study indicated that the Cardibra might have beneficial therapeutic effects on pain levels and wound healing up to day 14 after cardiac surgery. CONCLUSION: This innovative device may offer therapeutic benefits to women following cardiac surgery.