Trauma: Rib FracturesCreated OnMay 4, 2020Last Updated OnMay 4, 2020byadmin You are here: Main Radiology Trauma: Rib Fractures < All Topics Table of Contents Rib fractures are a common consequence of trauma and can cause life-threatening complications. when three or more contiguous floating ribs are present this is called a FLAIL CHEST. Rib fractures are often associated with other injuries and the greater the number of ribs fractures the more likely are associated injuries: brachial plexus or subclavian vessel injuries (1st-3rd rib fractures) pneumothorax/haemothorax pulmonary laceration lung herniation liver, kidney and spleen traumatic injuries (10-12th rib fractures) Rib fractures are often found unexpectedly in patients with chest pain as they may occur without a clear history of trauma. Patients treated with steroids may sustain a rib fracture as the result of minor trauma, for example on coughing. Plain radiograph may miss up to 50% of rib fractures even with dedicated oblique rib projections. Chest X-ray is indicated for thoracic injury with suspected complications Rib fractures – Chest X-ray (detail) Multiple displaced lower left rib fractures are visible Subtle rib fracture – Shoulder X-ray The clavicle fracture is obvious A subtle rib fracture is also seen Note: Always check for a second injury Complications of rib fractures If more than a simple rib fracture is suspected, then a chest X-ray may be indicated to look for a pneumothorax or haemothorax. A chest X-ray alone cannot determine if a pleural effusion is a haemothorax or simple fluid, however in the context of significant chest trauma this is often a reasonable assumption. Rib fractures with Haemothorax Multiple rib fractures are accompanied by a small pleural effusion – likely a haemothorax Rib Fracture with Pneumothorax A minimally displaced rib fracture is visible This fracture is complicated by a haemothorax and a pneumothorax with surgical emphysema *Some of the image photo is taken from web, we do not own this, it’s for knowledge sharing purpose.
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