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Rib Fracture In Children


A rib fracture is a crack or break in one or more of your child's ribs.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.

Pain medicine:

Your child may be given medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until your child's pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.


Simple rib fractures may need no treatment. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Deep breathing and coughing will decrease your child's risk for a lung infection. Ask your child to take a deep breath and hold it for as long as he can. He should let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open his airway. He may be given an incentive spirometer to help him take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your child's mouth and have him take a slow, deep breath. He should then let the air out and cough. Have him repeat these steps 10 times every hour.
  • A chest tube is used to remove air, blood, or fluid from around your child's lungs or heart. This lets the lungs fill up with air when your child breathes and helps his heart beat normally. The chest tube is attached to a container to collect the blood or fluid. Call your child's healthcare provider right away if the chest tube comes apart from the container. Let the healthcare provider know if the tubing gets bent or twisted, or the tape comes loose.
  • Surgery may be needed if your child has a rib fracture that causes a blood vessel injury. Your child may need a chest tube if the broken rib bones damaged his lungs or there is bleeding in his chest.


Greater force is needed to break the bones of children than the bones of adults. This increases the risk of damage to the heart, lungs, diaphragm, liver, spleen, or other organs inside the chest. The jagged edges of a broken rib may cut or tear the lung or a blood vessel. This may cause bleeding inside your child's chest or cause one of his lungs to collapse.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Rib Fracture In Children (Inpatient Care)

Micromedex® Care Notes