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01.12.2014 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

Journal of Trauma Management & Outcomes 1/2014

Diagnostic significance of rib series in minor thorax trauma compared to plain chest film and computed tomography

Journal of Trauma Management & Outcomes > Ausgabe 1/2014
Patrick Hoffstetter, Christian Dornia, Stephan Schäfer, Merle Wagner, Lena M Dendl, Christian Stroszczynski, Andreas G Schreyer
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1752-2897-8-10) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contribution

PH and AS designed the study. PH, CD, MW and AS carried out data analysis and interpretation. PH,CD and AS read the radiographics. MW and SS performed the statistical analysis. PH, LD and CS drafted the manuscript. All authors read an approved the final manuscript.



Rib series (RS) are a special radiological technique to improve the visualization of the bony parts of the chest.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of rib series in minor thorax trauma.


Retrospective study of 56 patients who received RS, 39 patients where additionally evaluated by plain chest film (PCF). All patients underwent a computed tomography (CT) of the chest. RS and PCF were re-read independently by three radiologists, the results were compared with the CT as goldstandard. Sensitivity, specificity, negative and positive predictive value were calculated. Significance in the differences of findings was determined by McNemar test, interobserver variability by Cohens kappa test.


56 patients were evaluated (34 men, 22 women, mean age =61 y.). In 22 patients one or more rib fracture could be identified by CT. In 18 of these cases (82%) the correct diagnosis was made by RS, in 16 cases (73%) the correct number of involved ribs was detected. These differences were significant (p = 0.03). Specificity was 100%, negative and positive predictive value were 85% and 100%. Kappa values for the interobserver agreement was 0.92-0.96. Sensitivity of PCF was 46% and was significantly lower (p = 0.008) compared to CT.


Rib series does not seem to be an useful examination in evaluating minor thorax trauma. CT seems to be the method of choice to detect rib fractures, but the clinical value of the radiological proof has to be discussed and investigated in larger follow up studies.
Authors’ original file for figure 1
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