Traumatic Sternal Fractures can be Safely Treated Conservatively - A 13-Year Retrospective Cohort Study

KJP van Wessem, Dorine Klei*, FC Öner, Mark van Baal, Luke Leenen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: Traumatic sternal fractures are rare injuries with little evidence supporting the best treatment strategy. This study assessed treatment outcomes from our level-I trauma centre.

METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted, including all sternal fracture patients admitted to our level-I trauma centre between 2007 and 2019. Patients with sternal fractures due to cardiopulmonary resuscitation, patients <16 years, patients who died during initial hospital stay, and patients lost to follow-up were excluded from analysis.

RESULTS: In 13 years, 355 patients with traumatic sternal fractures were admitted, corresponding to 2% of all trauma patients. 262 patients were included in analysis. Mean age was 52 years and 71% of patients were male. Mean ISS was 19 (range 4-66). The majority of sternal fractures was located in the sternal body. Six patients (2%) underwent primary sternal fixation. Treatment failure occurred in three patients (1%) and was significantly higher in the surgical treatment group (p=0.001). There was no difference in treatment failure between patients with and without concomitant spinal fractures.

CONCLUSIONS: Conservative treatment is safe and effective for traumatic sternal fractures. Surgical treatment should be reserved for rare cases, such as imminent respiratory failure or debilitating symptomatic non-union.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-587
JournalJournal of Surgery and Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021


  • Traumatic sternal fractures
  • treatment
  • outcomes
  • Retrospective cohort study


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