Trauma to the Thoracic Cage – An Autopsy Study
Keywords:fracture, rib, vertebrae, sternum, injury, chest, trauma, death
Background: Injuries of the chest causing disruption of the thoracic cage are increasing daily. Thoracic
cage may be injured due to blunt trauma like blows, compression of chest or grinding force of automobile
run over or due to penetrating injuries.
Method: This study analysed the pattern of injury thoracic cage in victims in trauma. 250 cases brought to
a tertiary care institution for autopsy were studied from 1st January 2005 to 30th November 2005(1st July
2005-30th November prospectively, and 1st January-30th June 2005, retrospectively). A cross sectional study
design including all cases of trauma to the thorax and heart with consecutive sampling was done. Data was
collected in pro forma and analysed.
Results: 206 victims were males. 130 (52%) were victims of road traffic accidents Pedestrians constituted
the majority (26.4%). External injuries were not found in 67 cases (26.8%). Involvement of rib alone
constituted 93 cases (37.2 %) followed by combination of rib and lung 54 cases (21.6 %), rib and sternum
13 cases (5.2%), sternum and lung 12 cases (4.8 %) and combination of various other organs occurred in 67
cases (26.8%). Simple fractures were the common rib injury in both sides. 34 cases (13.6%) with vertebral
injuries were observed and 19 were associated with spinal cord injury.
Conclusions: There is little that the autopsy surgeon can contribute to elucidate the factors leading to
accidental deaths. Multiple regression is useful to correlate between predictor and outcome variables.
Hopefully, future research will improve the methodology to predict the outcome of trauma to thoracic cage