Sternal fractures in blunt chest trauma: a practical algorithm for management

Am J Emerg Med. 1997 May;15(3):252-5. doi: 10.1016/s0735-6757(97)90007-3.


A retrospective review of the medical records of blunt trauma patients with sternal fracture admitted to a level 1 trauma center from June 1990 to June 1993 was undertaken to determine the relationship between sternal fractures and clinically significant myocardial injury, and to assess the usefulness of cardiac evaluation and monitoring in these patients. Of 33 patients with sternal fracture, 31 were in motor vehicle crashes and 2 were pedestrians struck. All had Glasgow Coma Scale score = 15. No patient had a severe, life-threatening, associated injury (Abbreviated Injury Score of >3). No electrocardiogram or echocardiogram showed evidence of acute injury or ischemia. No arrhythmias requiring treatment were noted. No CPK-MB fraction was >5%. These results show that sternal fracture is not a marker for clinically significant myocardial injury. The management of sternal fracture patients should be directed toward the treatment of associated injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms*
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / complications*
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Heart Injuries / enzymology
  • Heart Injuries / etiology
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sternum / diagnostic imaging
  • Sternum / injuries*
  • Thoracic Injuries / classification
  • Thoracic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / classification
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnosis*


  • Isoenzymes
  • Creatine Kinase