Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Fractured Breastbone Anatomy

To better understand sternum fracture, it helps to understand the anatomy of the chest.

The chest includes the part of the trunk between the neck and the abdomen. The chest holds the heart and lungs, as well as the esophagus and large blood vessels that connect to the heart.

The chest wall consists of the bones, cartilage, muscles and ligaments that hold the contents of the chest. The rib cage is made up of the vertebrae, ribs and sternum.

The ribs are attached to the vertebrae in the back and the sternum in the front. Joints between the vertebrae, ribs and sternum allow the bones to move.

The chest wall is also made up of soft tissues:

  • Ligaments
  • Muscles
  • Nerves

Chest Anatomy
  • The bones of the chest and the heart
  • The sternum bone in the chest
  • Typical location of sternal fracture
  • Muscles
  • Ribs, spine and sternum
  • Heart
  • Large vessels that attach to the heart
  • Lungs
  • Esophagus

Last Updated: Nov 4, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Fractured Breastbone References
  1. Aihara R, Millham FH, Blansfield J, Hirsch EF. Emergency room thoracotomy for penetrating chest injury: effect of an institutional protocol. J Trauma. 2001 Jun;50(6):1027-30. [11426116]
  2. Ferguson M, Luchette FA. Management of blunt chest injury. Respir Care Clin N Am. 1996 Sep;2(3):449-66. [9390891]
  3. Nagy KK, Krosner SM, Roberts RR, Joseph KT, Smith RF, Barrett J. Determining which patients require evaluation for blunt cardiac injury following blunt chest trauma. World J Surg. 2001 Jan;25(1):108-11. [11213149]
  4. Sartorelli KH, Vane DW. The diagnosis and management of children with blunt injury of the chest. Semin Pediatr Surg. 2004 May;13(2):98-105. [15362279]
  5. Wanek S, Mayberry JC. Blunt thoracic trauma: flail chest, pulmonary contusion, and blast injury. Crit Care Clin. 2004 Jan;20(1):71-81. [14979330]
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