Epidemiology and outcome of rib fractures: a nationwide study in the Netherlands

Jesse Peek*, Reinier B. Beks, Falco Hietbrink, Mirjam B. De Jong, Marilyn Heng, Frank J. P. Beeres, Frank F. A. IJpma, Loek P. H. Leenen, Rolf H. H. Groenwold, Roderick M. Houwert

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Purpose Rib fractures following thoracic trauma are frequently encountered injuries and associated with a significant morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to provide current data on the epidemiology, in-hospital outcomes and 30-day mortality of rib fractures, and to evaluate these results for different subgroups. Methods A nationwide retrospective cohort study was performed with the use of the Dutch Trauma Registry which covers 99% of the acutely admitted Dutch trauma population. All patients aged 18 years and older admitted to the hospital between January 2015 and December 2017 with one or more rib fractures were included. Incidence rates were calculated using demographic data from the Dutch Population Register. Subgroup analyses were performed for flail chest, polytrauma, primary thoracic trauma, and elderly patients. Results A total of 14,850 patients were admitted between 2015 and 2017 with one or more rib fractures, which was 6.0% of all trauma patients. Of these, 573 (3.9%) patients had a flail chest, 4438 (29.9%) were polytrauma patients, 9273 (63.4%) were patients with primary thoracic trauma, and 6663 (44.9%) were elderly patients. The incidence rate of patients with rib fractures for the entire cohort was 29 per 100.000 person-years. The overall 30-day mortality was 6.9% (n = 1208) with higher rates observed in flail chest (11.9%), polytrauma (14.8%), and elderly patients (11.7%). The median hospital length of stay was 6 days (IQR, 3-11) and 37.3% were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Conclusions Rib fractures are a relevant and frequently occurring problem among the trauma population. Subgroup analyses showed that there is a substantial heterogeneity among patients with rib fractures with considerable differences regarding the epidemiology, in-hospital outcomes, and 30-day mortality.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages7
    JournalEuropean Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
    Publication statusPublished - 6-Jun-2020


    • Rib fractures
    • Epidemiology
    • Incidence
    • Mortality
    • Outcome
    • DEATH

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