Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Sport Sciences

First Advisor

Courtney Jensen

First Committee Member

Mark Van Ness

Second Committee Member

Jonthan Saxe


Background. There are roughly 300,000 rib fractures treated for in the United States each year. These represent 10-26% of thoracic trauma injuries and have about a 10% mortality rate. There is a common belief that mortality in rib fracture patients can be contributed to the diagnosis of pneumonia, but this study does not support that claim. Purpose. To determine the predictors of morbidity and mortality in rib fracture patients. Methods. Using a level 1 trauma center patient registry, we retrospectively analyzed all patients that were admitted with at least one rib fracture (n=1,344). All predictors were analyzed with linear regressions. Results. The average age of the patients was 55.48 ± 20.29 years old and ranged between 15 and 98. ISS (OR: 1.0508, p<0.001), bilateral fractures (OR: 1.9495, p = 0.009) and pulmonary contusion (OR: 1.7481, p = 0.022) were all significant predictors of pneumonia. The age of the patient (OR: 1.0467, p < 0.001), ISS (OR: 1.0585, p <0.001), having 6 or more fractured ribs (OR: 3.1450, p < 0.001), the presence of hemothorax (OR: 2.5063, p = 0.048), and the use of mechanical ventilation (OR: 13.2125, p < 0.001) were all significant predictors of mortality. Flail segments (OR: 1.9871, p = 0.067), ISS (OR: 1.1267, p < 0.001), pulmonary contusions (OR: 1.5329, p = 0.047), pneumothorax (OR: 1.4372, p =0.073) and pneumonia (OR: 21.4516, p < 0.001) are all predictors of requiring mechanical ventilation. Conclusion. There are many studies that indicate rib fracture patients who are diagnosed with pneumonia have a higher risk or mortality. With this in mind, the logical course of treatment would be to counteract the complications pneumonia brings as to reduce the risk or mortality. To do this, it is recommend the patient be put on mechanical ventilation. While this has been seen to help with pneumonia patients, this study provides evidence that health care professionals should look for ways to reduce the need for mechanical ventilation instead of using it to combat the pneumonia.





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