Mari T Nummela, Seppo K Koskinen, Tuomo T Pyhältö, Frank V Bensch
Purpose To assess the incidence of costal cartilage (CC) fractures in whole-body computed tomographic (CT) examinations for blunt trauma and to evaluate distribution of CC fractures, concomitant injuries, mechanism of injury, accuracy of reporting, and the effect on 30-day mortality. Materials and Methods Institutional review board approval was obtained for this retrospective study. All whole-body CT examinations for blunt trauma over 36 months were reviewed retrospectively and chest trauma CT studies were evaluated by a second reader. Of 1461 patients who underwent a whole-body CT examination, 39% (574 of 1461) had signs of thoracic injuries (men, 74.0% [425 of 574]; mean age, 46.6 years; women, 26.0% [149 of 574]; mean age, 48.9 years). χ(2) and odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated. Interobserver agreement was calculated by using Cohen kappa values. Results A total of 114 patients (men, 86.8% [99 of 114]; mean age, 48.6 years; women, 13.2% [15 of 114]; mean age, 45.1 years) had 221 CC fractures. The incidence was 7.8% (114 of 1461) in all whole-body CT examinations and 19.9% (114 of 574) in patients with thoracic trauma. Cartilage of rib 7 (21.3%, 47 of 221) was most commonly injured. Bilateral multiple consecutive rib fractures occurred in 36% (41 of 114) versus 14% (64 of 460) in other patients with chest trauma (OR, 3.48; 95% CI: 2.18, 5.53; P < .0001). Hepatic injuries were more common in patients with chest trauma with CC fractures (13%, 15 of 114) versus patients with chest trauma without CC fractures (4%, 18 of 460) (OR, 3.72; 95% CI: 1.81, 7.64; P = .0001), as well as aortic injuries (n = 4 vs n = 0; P = .0015; OR, unavailable). Kappa value for interobserver agreement in detecting CC fractures was 0.65 (substantial agreement). CC fractures were documented in 39.5% (45 of 114) of primary reports. The 30-day mortality of patients with CC fractures was 7.02% (eight of 114) versus 4.78% (22 of 460) of other patients with chest trauma (OR, 1.50; 95% CI: 0.65, 3.47; P = .3371). Conclusion CC fractures are common in high-energy blunt chest trauma and often occur with multiple consecutive rib fractures. Aortic and hepatic injuries were more common in patients with CC fractures than in patients without CC fractures. (©) RSNA, 2017.