ACR Appropriateness Criteria® rib fractures

J Thorac Imaging. 2014 Nov;29(6):364-6. doi: 10.1097/RTI.0000000000000113.


Rib fracture is the most common thoracic injury, present in 10% of all traumatic injuries and almost 40% of patients who sustain severe nonpenetrating trauma. Although rib fractures can produce significant morbidity, the diagnosis of associated complications (such as pneumothorax, hemothorax, pulmonary contusion, atelectasis, flail chest, cardiovascular injury, and injuries to solid and hollow abdominal organs) may have a more significant clinical impact. When isolated, rib fractures have a relatively low morbidity and mortality, and failure to detect isolated rib fractures does not necessarily alter patient management or outcome in uncomplicated cases. A standard posteroanterior chest radiograph should be the initial, and often the only, imaging test required in patients with suspected rib fracture after minor trauma. Detailed radiographs of the ribs rarely add additional information that would change treatment, and, although other imaging tests (eg, computed tomography, bone scan) have increased sensitivity for detection of rib fractures, there are little data to support their use. The American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria are evidence-based guidelines for specific clinical conditions that are reviewed every 3 years by a multidisciplinary expert panel. The guideline development and review process include an extensive analysis of current medical literature from peer-reviewed journals and the application of a well-established consensus methodology (modified Delphi) to rate the appropriateness of imaging and treatment procedures by the panel. In those instances in which evidence is lacking or not definitive, expert opinion may be used to recommend imaging or treatment.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Radiology / standards
  • Rib Fractures / diagnosis*
  • Rib Fractures / etiology
  • Thoracic Injuries / complications
  • Thoracic Injuries / diagnosis