CT findings of sternal fracture

Injury. 1998 Oct;29(8):623-6. doi: 10.1016/s0020-1383(98)00150-8.


A retrospective study of blunt chest injuries due to motor vehicle accidents between the years 1990 and 1995 found 9 cases of sternal fracture that had both lateral plain film and thoracic axial CT scans performed. Plain film identified 8 of the 9 fractured sternums. CT scanning was only able to identify 6 sternal fractures. Secondary signs of sternal fracture were only seen in 5 of 9 patients, 3 had retrosternal haematomas and 2 had haematoma of the mediastinum.

Conclusions: (1) plain film is still superior to Axial CT scanning for identification of sternal fracture; (2) retrosternal haematoma, although a specific sign for sternal fracture has low sensitivity (3/9); (3) mediastinal haematoma, a poorly specific sign for sternal fracture also demonstrated low sensitivity.

MeSH terms

  • Fractures, Bone / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sternum / diagnostic imaging
  • Sternum / injuries*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnostic imaging*