International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 132, Issue 4, pp 1205–1213 | Cite as

Perimortem fracture pattern in ribs by blunt force trauma

  • Sarah Scheirs
  • Willeke Langenhorst
  • Assumpció Malgosa
  • Marisa Ortega-Sánchez
  • Hannah McGlynn
  • Cristina Santos
  • Xavier Jordana
  • Alfonso Rodriguez-Baeza
  • Ignasi Galtés
Original Article


Literature on timing of rib trauma is scarce but remains challenging during forensic cases. This study analysed the macroscopic fracture patterns of perimortem rib fractures and compared them to experimentally reproduced rib fractures on fresh and dry ribs. Six distinctive macroscopic traits were found in ribs that might provide information about the timing of trauma, fracture mechanism and/or trauma circumstances. These traits are peels, folds, differential fracture edges, incomplete fractures, plastic deformation and longitudinal lines. Peels, folds and plastic deformation might provide information about trauma timing. Folds and different fracture edges might provide information about the fracture mechanism. Statistical analyses showed that longitudinal lines, folds and incomplete fractures might provide information about the trauma circumstances and that age might have an influence on the occurrence of complete fractures, longitudinal lines and peels (p ≤ 0.05). The new insights presented in this study might be valuable for forensic anthropologists in rib trauma analysis.


Forensic anthropology Rib fractures Ribs Biomechanics Perimortem Traits 



Special thanks go to the technicians and personnel staff of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences of Catalonia (IMLCFC) and the GRABI research group.

Compliance with ethical standards

This study was approved by the Ethic Commission of Human and Animal Experimental Work (CEEAH) of the UAB, in compliance with the ethical regulations.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Scheirs
    • 1
    • 2
  • Willeke Langenhorst
    • 1
    • 3
  • Assumpció Malgosa
    • 2
  • Marisa Ortega-Sánchez
    • 1
    • 4
  • Hannah McGlynn
    • 5
  • Cristina Santos
    • 2
  • Xavier Jordana
    • 2
  • Alfonso Rodriguez-Baeza
    • 4
  • Ignasi Galtés
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.Forensic Anthropology Unit, Institut de Medicina Legal i Cienciès Forense (IMLCFC)Ciutat de la JustíciaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Biological Anthropology Unit, Department of Animal Biology, Vegetal Biology and EcologyUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Faculty of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and InformaticsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Anatomy and Embriology Unit, Morphological Sciences, Faculty of MedicineAutonomous Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Community Outreach and EngagementThe Achavanich Beaker Burial ProjectEdinburghScotland
  6. 6.Legal Medicine Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Legal Medicine, Faculty of MedicineUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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