A Proposed Scheme for Classifying Pediatric Rib Head Fractures Using Case Examples*

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Abstract

Pediatric rib head fractures are typically described as “posterior” or “costovertebral,” terms lacking specificity. To resolve this issue, a scheme was developed to describe the location of rib head fractures observed in a pediatric forensic population. The scheme uses three anatomical landmarks, terminus (tip), tubercle, and costovertebral articular surface to divide the rib head into two subregions, costovertebral and costotransverse. Examples of five cases of infants with rib head fractures are presented using this scheme. Forty-eight rib head fractures were observed in these infants with the following frequencies: 56% (three infants) at the terminus; 21% (three infants) in the costovertebral subregion; 21% (one infant) at the costovertebral articular facet; and 2% (one infant) in the costotransverse subregion. Due to the small number of cases assessed, statistical analyses could not be performed; however, the data demonstrate the variation in distribution of pediatric rib head fractures.

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