Rib fracture after stereotactic radiotherapy on follow-up thin-section computed tomography in 177 primary lung cancer patients

Radiat Oncol. 2011 Oct 13;6:137. doi: 10.1186/1748-717X-6-137.


Background: Chest wall injury after stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) for primary lung cancer has recently been reported. However, its detailed imaging findings are not clarified. So this study aimed to fully characterize the findings on computed tomography (CT), appearance time and frequency of chest wall injury after stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) for primary lung cancer

Materials and methods: A total of 177 patients who had undergone SRT were prospectively evaluated for periodical follow-up thin-section CT with special attention to chest wall injury. The time at which CT findings of chest wall injury appeared was assessed. Related clinical symptoms were also evaluated.

Results: Rib fracture was identified on follow-up CT in 41 patients (23.2%). Rib fractures appeared at a mean of 21.2 months after the completion of SRT (range, 4-58 months). Chest wall edema, thinning of the cortex and osteosclerosis were findings frequently associated with, and tending to precede rib fractures. No patients with rib fracture showed tumors > 16 mm from the adjacent chest wall. Chest wall pain was seen in 18 of 177 patients (10.2%), of whom 14 patients developed rib fracture. No patients complained of Grade 3 or more symptoms.

Conclusion: Rib fracture is frequently seen after SRT for lung cancer on CT, and is often associated with chest wall edema, thinning of the cortex and osteosclerosis. However, related chest wall pain is less frequent and is generally mild if present.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chest Pain
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteosclerosis / etiology
  • Osteosclerosis / pathology
  • Radiation Injuries
  • Radiosurgery / methods*
  • Rib Fractures
  • Thoracic Wall / radiation effects
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*