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Rib Fractures in Infants Due to Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Efforts

Dolinak, David MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2007 - Volume 28 - Issue 2 - p 107-110
doi: 10.1097/01.paf.0000257392.36528.b8
Original Article

Although it is widely known that adults may sustain fractures of the anterior and/or lateral aspects of the ribs due to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) efforts, relatively little is written about the generation of CPR-related rib fractures in the infant age range. In a series of 70 consecutive autopsies in infants ranging in age from 2 weeks to 8 months, with no history or indications of injury, the parietal pleura of the thoracic cage was stripped and the ribs carefully examined for fracture. Subtle fractures of the anterolateral aspects of the ribs were discovered in 8 (11%) of the 70 cases. In 7 of the 8 cases, multiple ribs were fractured (ranging up to 10 rib fractures), and in 5 of these cases, the rib fractures were bilateral. All of the rib fractures were subtle, had little if any associated blood extravasation, and would have been easily missed had the parietal pleura not been stripped. These anterolateral rib fractures in infants are the likely correlate of anterolateral rib fractures that are not uncommonly seen in the adult population, resulting from resuscitation efforts. The rib fractures are subtle and may not be identified unless the parietal pleura is stripped.

From the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office, Cleveland, Ohio.

Manuscript received December 1, 2005; accepted January 26, 2006.

Reprints: David Dolinak, MD, Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office, 11001 Cedar Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106. E-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.