Sternum fracture results in death about 25 to 45 percent of the time and is often caused by trauma to the hard plate of bone in the center of the chest that protects the heart and lungs from injury. When the sternum is fractured, rib breakage occurs about 20 percent of the time, and spinal fractures occur in roughly 10 percent of cases. Washington motorcyclists may be at higher risk for such injuries in case of accidents because of the lack of air bags and protective restraints.
People over 50, especially women, seem to be more vulnerable to this type of fracture. When osteoporosis is present, sternum fractures become more common, especially in an automobile or motorcycle accident where trauma to the chest is present. Bruising, damage or punctures of the heart and lungs, injury to abdominal organs, spinal cord injuries and death are all possible outcomes of sternum fracture.
Chest pain, difficulty breathing, crunching or grinding sounds and extensive chest bruising are all possible indications of sternum fractures. The chest may also appear deformed or misshapen because of the buckling of the underlying bone and the cartilage connecting it to the ribcage. Prompt assessment and treatment is important in these cases to prevent other complications such as bone infections, pneumonia, bleeding into the thoracic cavity and in many situations death.