What is the role of chest radiographs in the evaluation of rib fractures?

Updated: Jun 13, 2017
  • Author: Sarah L Melendez, MD; Chief Editor: Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH  more...
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Anteroposterior (AP) and lateral chest films are used routinely to assist in the diagnosis of rib fractures, yet sensitivity as low as 50% has been reported. Delayed or follow-up radiographs can be very helpful.

Chest radiographs are much more useful in the diagnosis of underlying injuries, including hemothorax, pneumothorax, lung contusion, atelectasis, pneumonia, and vascular injuries.

Findings of sternal fracture [10] or scapular fracture [13] should increase suspicion for rib fractures.

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