BMJ Case Reports 2018; doi:10.1136/bcr-2018-225293
  • Unexpected outcome (positive or negative) including adverse drug reactions

Uncommon cause of chest pain in a postoperative spinal patient

  1. Rajesh Dwivedi
  1. Health Care for Older People, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rajesh Dwivedi, rajesh.dwivedi{at}
  • Accepted 30 August 2018
  • Published 14 September 2018


An 84-year-old woman with previous spinal operations including vertebroplasty and lumbar decompressions was admitted electively under the spinal team for right-sided L4/5 decompression for worsening back pain which she undergoes using a posterior approach. Postoperatively, she develops stabbing upper central chest pain and given unremarkable chest X-ray, ECG and cardiac troponin, she undergoes a CT pulmonary angiogram which shows a fracture of the upper part of sternum but no pulmonary embolism. There is no history of recent trauma and this is deemed to be secondary to prolonged spinal surgery in the prone position in a patient with osteopenic bones. To date, we have not come across a case of spontaneous sternal fracture as a complication of spinal surgery at our regional spinal unit. Most cases of sternal fractures are secondary to blunt anterior chest wall trauma with spontaneous fractures and stress fractures being rare.


  • Contributors Sole author.

  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Register for free content

The full text of all Editor's Choice articles and summaries of every article are free without registration

The full text of Images in ... articles are free to registered users

Only fellows can access the full text of case reports (apart from Editor's Choice) - become a fellow today, or encourage your institution to, so that together we can grow and develop this resource

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the case reports as they are published, and let us know what you think by commenting on the Editor's blog

Navigate This Article