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J Trauma. 2003 Jun;54(6):1107-10.

The positive predictive value of rib fractures as an indicator of nonaccidental trauma in children.

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Department of Surgery, The Children's Hospital, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, USA.



Rib fractures have a strong association with nonaccidental trauma (NAT) and severe trauma. The purposes of this study were to evaluate rib fractures in children to determine (1) the positive predictive value of a rib fracture in defining NAT and (2) the frequency of rib fractures as the only skeletal manifestation of NAT.


We reviewed the medical records and imaging of all children with rib fractures over a 6-year period. NAT was determined by the Child Advocacy and Protection team.


In children younger than 3 years of age, the positive predictive value (PPV) of a rib fracture as an indicator of NAT was 95%. The positive predictive value increased to 100% once historical and clinical circumstance excluded all other causes for rib fractures.


In this study, rib fracture(s) were the only skeletal manifestation of NAT in 29% of the children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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