Imaging appearances of the sternum and sternoclavicular joints

Radiographics. 2009 May-Jun;29(3):839-59. doi: 10.1148/rg.293055136.


The sternum and sternoclavicular joints--critical structures of the anterior chest wall--may be affected by various anatomic anomalies and pathologic processes, some of which require treatment. Pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum are common congenital anomalies that are usually benign but may warrant surgical treatment if they cause compression of vital internal structures. By contrast, developmental variants such as the sternal foramen are asymptomatic and do not require further evaluation or treatment. Arthritides of the sternoclavicular joint (osteoarthritis, septic arthritis, and seronegative arthropathies) are common and must be differentiated before an appropriate management method can be selected. The recognition of complications of sternotomy (eg, sternal dehiscence, secondary osteomyelitis) is critical to avoid life-threatening sequelae such as acute mediastinitis. Likewise, the detection of sternal fractures and sternoclavicular dislocations is important, especially where they impinge on vital structures. In addition, sternal malignancies (most commonly, metastases and chondrosarcoma) must be distinguished from benign neoplasms. To achieve accurate and timely diagnoses that facilitate appropriate treatment, radiologists must be familiar with the appearances of these normal anatomic variants and diseases of the sternum.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Funnel Chest / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteomyelitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging
  • Sternoclavicular Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sternoclavicular Joint / injuries
  • Sternoclavicular Joint / surgery
  • Sternum / abnormalities
  • Sternum / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sternum / injuries
  • Sternum / surgery
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Young Adult