Unlike a cracked rib, a completely broken rib can injure blood vessels and internal organs. The risk increases with the number of broken ribs. Complications vary depending on which ribs have been broken. Possible complications include:
March 04, 2014
- Torn or punctured aorta. After a complete break in one of the first three ribs at the top of your rib cage, the sharp end of a broken rib could rupture your aorta or another major blood vessel.
- Punctured lung. The jagged end of a broken middle rib can puncture a lung and cause it to collapse.
- Lacerated spleen, liver or kidneys. The bottom two ribs rarely fracture because they have more flexibility than do the upper and middle ribs, which are anchored to the breastbone. But if you break a lower rib, the broken ends can cause serious damage to your spleen, liver or kidneys.
- Eiff MP, et al. Fracture Management for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 18, 2013.
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- Fractures. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries_poisoning/fractures_dislocations_and_sprains/fractures.html?qt=fractures&alt=sh. Accessed Oct. 18, 2013.
- Safran MR, et al. Instructions for Sports Medicine Patients. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 18, 2013.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 28, 2013.
- What is a heart attack? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack. Accessed Oct. 18, 2013.
- Preventing falls and related fractures. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/Fracture/prevent_falls_ff.asp. Accessed Oct. 18, 2013.
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