The role of acute care surgeons in treating rib fractures—a retrospective cohort study from a single level I trauma center

Chia Cheng Wang, Szu An Chen, Chi Tung Cheng, Yu San Tee, Sheng Yu Chan, Chih Yuan Fu, Chien An Liao, Chi Hsun Hsieh, Ling Wei Kuo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Rib fractures are the most common thoracic injury in patients who sustained blunt trauma, and potentially life-threatening associated injuries are prevalent. Multi-disciplinary work-up is crucial to achieving a comprehensive understanding of these patients. The present study demonstrated the experience of an acute care surgery (ACS) model for rib fracture management from a single level I trauma center over 13 years. Methods: Data from patients diagnosed with acute rib fractures from January 2008 to December 2020 were collected from the trauma registry of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (CGMH). Information, including patient age, sex, injury mechanism, Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) in different anatomic regions, injury severity score (ISS), index admission department, intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS), total admission LOS, mortality, and other characteristics of multiple rib fracture, were analyzed. Patients who received surgical stabilization of rib fractures (SSRF) were analyzed separately, and basic demographics and clinical outcomes were compared between acute care and thoracic surgeons. Results: A total of 5103 patients diagnosed with acute rib fracture were admitted via the emergency department (ED) of CGMH in the 13-year study period. The Department of Trauma and Emergency Surgery (TR) received the most patients (70.8%), and the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery (CTS) received only 3.1% of the total patients. SSRF was initiated in 2017, and TR performed fixation for 141 patients, while CTS operated for 16 patients. The basic demographics were similar between the two groups, and no significant differences were noted in the outcomes, including LOS, LCU LOS, length of indwelling chest tube, or complications. There was only one mortality in all SSRF patients, and the patient was from the CTS group. Conclusions: Acute care surgeons provided good-quality care to rib fracture patients, whether SSRF or non-SSRF. Acute care surgeons also safely performed SSRF. Therefore, we propose that the ACS model may be an option for rib fracture management, depending on the deployment of staff in each institute.

Original languageEnglish
Article number271
JournalBMC Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 12 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Acute care surgery
  • Rib fracture
  • SSRF
  • Surgical stabilization of rib fractures
  • Trauma


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