Costal cartilage fractures and disruptions in a rugby football player.

Authors: Victor Lopez Jr, Richard Ma, Xinning Li, John Steele and Answorth A. Allen.


Costal cartilage fracture of the rib cage, or costochondral, is a rare sporting injury. For contact athletes, the instability of the rib cage may lead to potential serious complications, similar to rib fractures or thorax disruption. Most authors recommend initial conservative treatment with surgery reserved for only recalcitrant cases. We report a case of an amateur American male rugby football player who sustained a costal cartilage fracture and disruption involving the anterior left fifth and sixth rib costal cartilages. The case highlights the difficulty in establishing the diagnosis based on clinical examination and standard radiographs alone. Computed tomography was used to assist in diagnosing this destabilizing injury to the rib cage. Costal cartilage fractures and disruptions in athletes are rarely reported in the literature and can have serious implications for the athlete’s ability to return to play if the rib cage is destabilized.


Clinical Case Study