Nursing & Healthcare Directories on: The Nursefriendly
Chest Trauma, Thoracic Injuries,
Rib Fractures, Broken Rib

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See also: Fractures & Broken Bones, Traumatic Injuries Rib Fracture, General Information,"What are the signs and symptoms of a rib fracture? You may have one or more of the following: An abnormal lump that may be felt on your chest. Broken rib bone that has cut through your skin. Chest pain that worsens when you breathe. Chest tenderness (pain when touched). Deformed chest (shaped different than normal). Trouble breathing or trouble taking deep breathes."


Fracture, Rib, Background, Emedicine:"Simple rib fractures are the most common injury sustained following blunt chest trauma, accounting for more than half of thoracic injuries from nonpenetrating trauma. Approximately 10% of all patients admitted after blunt chest trauma have one or more rib fractures. These fractures are rarely life-threatening in themselves but can be an external marker of more severe visceral injury inside the abdomen and the chest."
Emedicine Editorial Staff
Morgan Place, Suite 402
8420 West Dodge Road
Omaha, NE 68114
(402) 341-3222 8:30 am - 5:00 pm CST Monday-Friday.
Fax: 402-341-3336


Rib Fracture Evaluation,"The evaluation of rib fractures begins with a history and physical exam. Physical findings in someone with rib fracture may include: Bruising of the chest Rapid breathing rate Rib tenderness Swelling of the chest over the rib Usually, tests are necessary to make the diagnosis of rib fracture."


Broken Ribs,"A broken rib, or fractured rib, is a common injury that occurs when one of the bones in your rib cage breaks or cracks. The most common cause of broken ribs is trauma to the chest, such as from a fall, motor vehicle accident or impact during contact sports. Signs and symptoms of a broken rib include pain, especially when taking a deep breath or pressing on the injured area. In most cases, treatment of broken ribs is directed at controlling the pain until the fracture heals. Broken ribs usually heal in about one to two months."


Rib Fractures, Fractures,"With lower rib fractures, there may be concern about organs in the abdomen that the ribs protect. The liver is located under the ribs on the right side of the chest, and the spleen under the ribs on the left side of the chest. Many times your doctor may be more worried about abdominal injury than about the broken rib itself. Ultrasound or CT scan may help diagnosis intra-abdominal injuries."
111 8th Ave
7th Floor
New York, NY 10011
(212) 624-3700


Rib fracture, National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC):"Rib fracture is the most common thoracic injury and is thought to be present in 10% of all traumatic injuries and in almost 40% of patients who sustain severe non-penetrating trauma. Rib fractures typically affect the fifth through ninth ribs. This may be due to the fact that the shoulder girdle affords relative protection to the upper ribs and the lower ribs are relatively mobile and may deflect before fracturing. Neither clinical examination nor radiography is ideal for the diagnosis of rib fractures. While rib fractures can produce significant morbidity, the diagnosis of associated complications (such as pneumothorax, hemothorax, pulmonary contusion, atelectasis, flail chest, cardiovascular injury, and injuries to solid and hollow abdominal organs) may have a more significant clinical impact. Radiographs are specific but not very sensitive (for undisplaced fractures), and clinical examination is sensitive but not specific."
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road Rockville, MD 20850
Telephone: (301) 427-1364


Rib Fracture Repair, Oregon Health & Sciences University:"Most rib fractures will heal on their own without complications but there are selected patients that do benefit from rib fracture repair. Patients with flail chest, a severely fractured chest wall that cannot maintain proper respiratory movement, and those with a chest wall defect , a ‘caved in’ area of the chest that may also include an open wound, should be considered for rib fracture repairs if other injuries don’t preclude it. Randomized clinical trials have shown that patients with flail chest who undergo rib repair have fewer days in the intensive care unit (ICU) on mechanical ventilation , lower pneumonia rates, and return to work sooner. Patients with significant brain injuries and pulmonary contusions are not good candidates for repair."
Oregon Health & Sciences University
3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Rd.
Portland, Oregon 97239-3098
Switchboard 503 494-8311


Rib Fracture (Broken Rib; Fracture, Rib), Treatment, Third Age:"Treatment includes: Rest. Rest and do not do physical activity until the pain has gone away. Protection. Your doctor may suggest wearing a chest binder around your ribs to protect them. The binder will also help you breathe properly. It is very important to take some good breaths so that the lungs remain clear. Pneumonia can develop after rib fractures if you are not breathing deeply enough. If you play contact sports, you may need to wear a rib cage protector for 6-8 weeks when you return to playing."
ThirdAge Inc. (Executive)
1440 Broadway
Suite 2318
New York, NY 10018


Chest Trauma: Rib fractures & Flail Chest:"Chest wall injury is a extremely common following blunt trauma. It varies in severity from minor bruising or an isolated rib fracture to servere crush injuries of both hemithoraces leading to respiratory compromise. While many chest injuries will require no specific therapy, they may be indicators of more significant underlying trauma. Multiple rib fractures will often be associated with an underlying pulmonary contusion, which may not be immediately apparent on an initial chest X-ray. Fractures of the lower ribs may be associated with diaphragmatic tears and spleen or liver injuries. Injuries to upper ribs are less commonly associated with injuries to adjacent great vessels. This is especially true of a first rib fracture, which requires a significant amount of force to break and indicates a major energy transfer. A fracture of the first rib should prompt a careful search for other injuries. Note also that the rib cage and sternum provide a significant amount of stability to the thoracic spine. Severe disruption of this 'fourth column' may convert what would otherwise be a stable thoracic spine fracture into an unstable one."
72 Ladbroke Grove
London W11 2HF
t: +44 20 7460 2442
f: +44 20 7460 2442


Cough induced rib fracture, rupture of the diaphragm and abdominal herniation, World J Emerg Surg:"Cough can be associated with many complications. In this article, we present a 59 year old male patient with a very rare combination of a cough related stress fracture of the ninth rib, a traumatic rupture of the diaphragm, and an abdominal wall herniation. The hernia was repaired through surgical treatment without bowel resection, the diaphragm and the internal and oblique abdominal muscle were adapted, and the abdomen was reinforced with a prolene net."
World J Emerg Surg. 2006; 1: 34.
Published online 2006 November 24. doi: 10.1186/1749-7922-1-34.
PMCID: PMC1675993




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