Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Sternum Fracture Overview

What is a sternum fracture?
A person with a sternum fracture has a broken sternum, caused by an injury. Most sternum fractures are caused by motor vehicle accidents. A sternum fracture may occur when the driver's chest strikes the steering wheel during the accident.

What are the symptoms of a sternum fracture?
The most common symptom of a sternum fracture includes chest pain over the center of the chest. The pain may be worse during movement or during a deep breath. Additional symptoms may include bruising, swelling, and tenderness over the sternum. Symptoms of a severe sternum fracture include difficulty breathing and a deformed chest.

How does the doctor treat a sternum fracture?
Treatment for a sternum fracture may include rest, cold compresses, narcotic pain medication, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Treatment for a severe sternum fracture may include heart monitoring, oxygen therapy, and surgery to repair the fracture.

Continue to Sternum Fracture Symptoms

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Sternum Fracture 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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