First rib fracture: A harbinger of severe trauma?

Robert E. Luceri, Nina Glass, Joanelle A. Bailey, Ziad C. Sifri, Anastasia Kunac, Stephanie Bonne, Peter P. Yonclas, Anne Mosenthal, David Livingston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Prior to routine CT scanning, first rib fractures (FRFs) were considered a harbinger of great vessel injuries. We hypothesized FRFs identified on screening CXR have significant associated injuries, while those identified on CT alone do not. Methods: We reviewed adult blunt thoracic trauma patients 2014–2015 to identify all FRFs and then tabulated demographics, injury characteristics, and outcomes. Results: Of 429 patients with chest trauma, 56 had a FRF. CXR diagnosed 20% and CT 80%. Those diagnosed on CXR were older (61 vs 48 p = 0.03), had more severe chest trauma (45% vs 13% chest AIS>3, p = 0.029), longer ICU stays (10 vs 4 days, p = 0.046), and risk for intubation (73% vs 27%, p = 0.011). There was only one major vascular injury in each group. Most FRF patients had associated injuries, including 82% with pelvic fractures. Conclusions: Widespread use of CT scanning has resulted in a 5-fold increase in FRF diagnoses. While vascular injuries are not common, especially when identified on initial CXR, FRFs correlate with morbidity and associated injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)740-744
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


  • Blunt trauma
  • First rib fracture
  • Vascular trauma


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