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Am J Emerg Med. 1997 May;15(3):252-5.

Sternal fractures in blunt chest trauma: a practical algorithm for management.

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Department of Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick 08903-0019, USA.


A retrospective review of the medical records of blunt trauma patients with sternal fracture admitted to a level 1 trauma center from June 1990 to June 1993 was undertaken to determine the relationship between sternal fractures and clinically significant myocardial injury, and to assess the usefulness of cardiac evaluation and monitoring in these patients. Of 33 patients with sternal fracture, 31 were in motor vehicle crashes and 2 were pedestrians struck. All had Glasgow Coma Scale score = 15. No patient had a severe, life-threatening, associated injury (Abbreviated Injury Score of >3). No electrocardiogram or echocardiogram showed evidence of acute injury or ischemia. No arrhythmias requiring treatment were noted. No CPK-MB fraction was >5%. These results show that sternal fracture is not a marker for clinically significant myocardial injury. The management of sternal fracture patients should be directed toward the treatment of associated injuries.

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