Purpose: To evaluate the prevalence of abnormalities of rib development in normal Caucasian children and patients with childhood cancer.
Materials and methods: Chest radiographs of 881 Caucasian pediatric controls and 906 childhood cancer patients were reviewed, and independently scored by four blinded observers, using strict definitions. Prevalences of 6 major rib anomaly categories in controls were compared to their prevalence in the total group of childhood cancer patients, and the 12 individual larger tumor groups using Chi-square tests.
Results: Values in the control population were generated for the occurrence of six major rib anomaly categories; cervical rib anomalies were present in 6.1% of controls, aplasia of 12th ribs in 6.6%, lumbar ribs in 0.9%, bifurcations in 0.7%, synostosis-bridging in 0.3%, and segmentations were not found. The overall prevalence of total rib anomalies in cases and controls was equal (14.9% and 14.2%, respectively). Cervical rib anomalies were found significantly more often in cases (8.6%) compared to controls (p-value=0.047), three groups accounting for this higher prevalence: 12.1% of acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients (p=0.011), 18.2% of astrocytoma patients (p=0.023), and 14.7% of germ cell tumor patients (p=0.046) had a cervical rib anomaly.
Conclusion: Prevalence figures for the presence and type of rib anomalies in a large group of normal Caucasian children were generated. In childhood cancer patients a significantly higher prevalence of cervical rib anomalies was demonstrated in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, astrocytoma, and germ cell tumors.