Introduction: Conventional frontal radiography is mandatory in trauma patients and usually sufficient to detect rib fractures, even though the alignment of bone fragments or projection difficulties may sometimes hinder their depiction. Therefore, there exists moderate disagreement between clinically suspected rib fractures and radiographic findings.
Materials and methods: We report our personal experience with US in the detection of rib conditions (fractures and bruises), missed at preliminary radiography. Five symptomatic patients with suspected rib fractures underwent radiographic and US studies. All patients were examined with a real time unit (RT 2800, GE Medical Systems, Milwaukee, USA) with a 7.5 MHz linear probe.
Results and conclusion: US demonstrated rib fractures in 4 patients with negative radiographic findings and a parosteal hematoma in one patient. We conclude that US can detect the rib fractures missed at conventional radiography and show rib cartilage conditions, costochondral dislocations and parosteal hematomas. Therefore we suggest the routine use of this technique in all chest trauma patients, as a useful complement to frontal radiographs, for both management and forensic purposes.