Dynamic ultrasound in the evaluation of patients with suspected slipping rib syndrome

Dane Van Tassel, Lisa E McMahon, Monique Riemann, Kevin Wong, Craig E Barnes
Skeletal Radiology 2019, 48 (5): 741-751

OBJECTIVE: Slipping rib syndrome (SRS) affects adolescents and young adults. Dynamic ultrasound plays a potential and likely significant role; however, limited data exist describing the protocol and techniques available. It is our intent to describe the development of a reproducible protocol for imaging in patients with SRS.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Retrospective review of suspected SRS patients from March 2017 to April 2018. A total of 46 patients were evaluated. Focused history and imaging was performed at the site of pain. Images of the ribs were obtained in the parasagittal plane at rest and with dynamic maneuvers. Dynamic maneuvers included Valsalva, crunch, rib push maneuver, and any provocative movement that elicited pain. Imaging was compared with records from the pediatric surgeon specializing in slipping ribs. Statistical analysis was performed.

RESULTS: Thirty-six of the 46 patients had a diagnosis of SRS, and had an average age of 17 years. Thirty-one patients were female, 15 were male. Thirty-one out of 46 (67%) were athletes. Average BMI was 22.6. Dynamic ultrasound correctly detected SRS in 89% of patients (32 out of 36) and correctly detected the absence in 100% (10 out of 10). Push maneuver had the highest sensitivity (87%; 0.70, 0.96) followed by morphology (68%; 0.51, 0.81) and crunch maneuver (54%; 0.37, 0.71). Valsalva was the least sensitive (13%; 0.04, 0.29).

CONCLUSION: Dynamic ultrasound of the ribs, particularly with crunch and push maneuvers, is an effective and reproducible tool for diagnosing SRS. Valsalva plays a limited role. In addition to diagnosing SRS, ultrasound can give the surgeon morphological data and information on additional ribs at risk, thereby assisting in surgical planning.

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