Stress fractures of the ribs in elite competitive rowers: a report of nine cases

Skeletal Radiol. 2007 Oct;36(10):951-4. doi: 10.1007/s00256-007-0350-2. Epub 2007 Jul 28.


Objective: The objective was to report the clinical and imaging patterns of nine cases of stress fractures of the rib diagnosed in Italian Olympic rowers.

Patients and methods: Nine patients with stress fractures of the rib detected from 103 (8.7%) Italian team rowers competing between May 2000 and May 2006 were identified based on the database of a sports medicine institute. All athletes were male. They were aged between 17 and 31 years (mean: 24.4). Patient weight, fracture location, rowing side and imaging methods employed were noted.

Results: The diagnosis was made based on history, clinical examination and Tc-99m MDP bone scintigraphy. Eight of the 9 fractures were located anterolaterally between the fourth and ninth rib. In 1 of the 5 athletes with standard radiographs, a fracture line was visible and in 4 there was callus formation. In 2 athletes sonography was performed, which detected discontinuity of the rib surface and callus formation (1 case each).

Conclusion: Stress fractures of the ribs are relatively common in competitive rowers. They are characterized by increasing lateral chest pain and typical scintigraphic, radiographic and sonographic findings.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Fractures, Stress / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rib Fractures / diagnosis*
  • Ships