Investigation of the relationship of the number, localization, and displacement of rib fractures with intrathoracic structures and abdominal solid organ complications using computed tomography



This study aimed at evaluating the fracture properties, intrathoracic structures, and abdominal solid organ complications in patients with traumatic rib fractures.


Chest CT images of 305 patients were retrospectively evaluated to determine the number and level of rib fractures and measure the magnitude of displacement. The relationship of rib fractures and displacement patterns with intrathoracic structures and abdominal solid organ complications was investigated.


The fractures were most located in the fifth, sixth, and seventh ribs. The mean age of the patients with displaced fractures was statistically significantly higher than the non-displaced fracture group with pneumothorax, hemothorax or lung injury. RibScore was statistically significantly higher in patients with pneumothorax, hemothorax, and lung parenchyma injury, as well as those with liver, spleen, and kidney injury. Hepatic, splenic, and renal injuries were markedly higher in patients with displaced fractures, but this was not statistically significant. Spleen and kidney injuries were statistically significantly more frequent among the patients with the fractures of the 10th to 12th ribs. The rib fracture displacement cut-off values for pneumothorax, hemothorax, and lung injury were found to be 2.18 mm, 2.32 mm, and 2.82 mm, respectively.


The presence of a displaced rib fracture is a strong predictor of intrathoracic complications. A more careful intrathoracic evaluation of rib fractures with more than 2 mm displacement will contribute to patient management.

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Correspondence to Muhammed Said Beşler.

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Parlak, S., Beşler, M.S. Investigation of the relationship of the number, localization, and displacement of rib fractures with intrathoracic structures and abdominal solid organ complications using computed tomography. Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg (2020).

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  • Computed tomography
  • Rib fracture
  • Pneumothorax
  • Hemothorax