A recent increase in the number of infants presenting at autopsy with rib fractures associated with cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) precipitated a study to determine whether such a phenomenon was related to recent revision of paediatric resuscitation guidelines.
We conducted a review of autopsy reports from 1997 to 2008 on 571 infants who had CPR performed prior to death.
Analysis of the study population revealed CPR-related rib fractures in 19 infants (3.3%), 14 of whom died in the 2006-2008 period. The difference in annual frequency of CPR-related fractures between the periods before and after revision of paediatric CPR guidelines was statistically highly significant.
The findings indicate that CPR-associated rib fractures have become more frequent in infants since changes in CPR techniques were introduced in 2005. This has important implications for both clinicians and pathologists in their assessment of rib fractures in this patient population.