What should be the focus of history in suspected rib fracture?

Updated: Jun 13, 2017
  • Author: Sarah L Melendez, MD; Chief Editor: Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH  more...
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Answer

Description of the prehospital scene by paramedics can provide important clues to the possibility of rib fractures. After motor vehicle collisions, deformation of the steering wheel and activation of seat belts and airbags have been associated with rib injuries.

Patients with rib fracture frequently complain of pain on inspiration and dyspnea.

Rib fractures have been reported after coughing spells without other significant trauma.

Athletes with high-force, recurrent movements of the arms (eg, discus throwers) have had stress fractures of the upper and middle ribs. [29]

Consider nonaccidental trauma in pediatric cases, and take an appropriate history for that diagnosis.


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