Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Br J Sports Med. 2014 Jul;48(14):1097-101. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092681. Epub 2013 Aug 20.

Thoracic injuries in professional rugby players: mechanisms of injury and imaging characteristics.

Author information

  • 1Department of Radiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA Department of Radiology, Bridgeport Hospital, Yale University School of Medicine, Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA.
  • 2Department of Radiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA Department of Radiology, University of Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany.
  • 3Australian Sports Commission, Bruce, Australia.
  • 4Department of Radiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
  • 5Drs Van Wageningen and Partners, Somerset West, South Africa.


Professional rugby players are prone to traumatic thoracic injuries due to the use of minimal protective gear to cover the torso. In the 2007 Rugby World Cup, thoracic injuries occurred at a rate of 8.3 cases/1000 player-hours. CT and MRI play an important role in the diagnosis of these injuries. Vital internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, trachea, liver and large blood vessels lie within close proximity to the bony structures and what seems to be a simple rib fracture or clavicular dislocation can have potentially life-threatening complications that are not detected by conventional radiography. Cross-sectional imaging helps to determine the choice of treatment. Ultrasound offers a quick and dynamic imaging examination and allows high-resolution assessment of superficial tissues that complements conventional imaging. In this review article, we (1) presented data on incidence of thoracic injuries in professional rugby players; (2) described the anatomy of the joints comprising the thoracic cage and major muscles attached to the rib cage; (3) discussed indications and relevance for MRI and presented an optimised MRI protocol for assessment of suspected thoracic injury; and (4) illustrated various types of thoracic injuries seen in professional rugby players, including sternal contusion, retrosternal haematoma, manubriosternal disruption, sternoclavicular dislocation, rib fractures and injuries of the pectoralis major muscle.

Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to


Core stability/pelvis/hips, ribs; MRI; Muscle damage/injuries; Rugby; Ultrasound

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk