Objective: To evaluate the utility of oblique chest views in the diagnosis of rib fractures when used as a routine part of the skeletal survey performed for possible physical abuse.
Methods: Oblique chest views have been part of the routine skeletal survey protocol at Primary Children's Medical Center since October 2002. Dictated radiology reports since that time were reviewed, and all cases with rib fractures documented were chosen for study. For each chosen case two pediatric radiologists identified and recorded rib fractures using only the PA and lateral chest radiographs (standard two-view chest series) from the skeletal survey for each case. In a separate session they identified and recorded rib fractures using the PA, lateral, right oblique, and left oblique radiographs (four-view chest series) from the skeletal survey for each case. The results were compared.
Results: Twenty-two cases with rib fractures were identified. Interpretation of the four-view chest series was different than interpretation of the two-view chest series in 12 of the 22 cases (54%). Overall, the four-view chest series differed significantly in the number of rib fractures diagnosed compared with the two-view chest series (p=.02, Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-rank test) adding 19 rib fractures and excluding 6 rib fractures.
Conclusions: The results indicate that use of the four-view chest series adds information to that obtained from the two-view chest series and increases the accuracy of diagnosing rib fractures in cases of possible physical abuse. Addition of oblique chest views to the routine protocol for skeletal surveys performed for possible physical abuse is recommended.