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Associated Injuries in Traumatic Sternal Fractures: A Review of the National Trauma Data Bank

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Sternal fractures occur infrequently with blunt force trauma. The demographics and epidemiology of associated injuries have not been well characterized from a national trauma database. The National Trauma Data Bank was queried for patients with closed sternal fractures. The demographics were analyzed by age, gender, mechanism and indicators of anatomic and physiologic injuries. Types of commonly associated injuries were also determined. A total of 23,985 records were analyzed. Males accounted for 68.3 per cent and whites 70.9 per cent. Motor vehicle crash was the leading mechanism. More than 56 per cent had severe injuries based on Injury Severity Score (greater than 15) and 17 per cent with Glasgow Coma Score 8 or less. Crude mortality was 7.9 per cent. The majority (57.8%) and approximately one-third (33.7%) of the patients had rib fractures and lung contusions, respectively, 22.0 per cent with closed pneumothorax, 21.6 per cent had a closed thoracic vertebra fracture, 16.9 per cent with lumbar spine fracture, 3.9 per cent with concussion, and blunt cardiac injury in 3.6 per cent. Sternal fractures are usually associated with severe blunt trauma. Lung contusion remains the leading associated injury followed by vertebral spine fractures. Cardiac injuries are less frequent and vascular injuries less so. Mechanism of injury and presence of sternal fractures should alert providers to these potential associated injuries.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2013

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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