Although a recognized and discussed injury, chondral rib fractures in professional American football have not been previously reported in the literature. There currently exists no consensus on how to identify and treat these injuries or the expected return to play for the athlete.To present 2 cases of chondral rib injuries in the National Football League (NFL) and discuss the current practice patterns for management of these injuries among the NFL team physicians.Case series; Level of evidence, 4.Two cases of NFL players with chondral rib injuries are presented. A survey regarding work-up and treatment of these injuries was completed by team physicians at the 2014 NFL Combine. Our experience in identifying and treating these injuries is presented in conjunction with a survey of NFL team physicians' experiences.Two cases of rib chondral injuries were diagnosed by computed tomography (CT) and treated with rest and protective splinting. Return to play was 2 to 4 weeks. NFL Combine survey results show that NFL team physicians see a mean of 4 costal cartilage injuries per 5-year period, or approximately 1 case per year per team. Seventy percent of team physicians use CT scanning and 43% use magnetic resonance imaging for diagnosis of these injuries. An anesthetic block is used acutely in 57% and only electively in subsequent games by 39%.A high index of suspicion is necessary to diagnose chondral rib injuries in American football. CT scan is most commonly used to confirm diagnosis. Return to play can take up to 2 to 4 weeks with a protective device, although anesthetic blocks can be used to potentially expedite return.Chondral rib injuries are common among NFL football players, while there is no literature to support proper diagnosis and treatment of these injuries or expected duration of recovery. These injuries are likely common in other contact sports and levels of competition as well. Our series combined with NFL team physician survey results can aid team physicians in identifying these injuries, obtaining useful imaging, and counseling players and coaches and the expected time of recovery.
View details for DOI 10.1177/2325967115627623
View details for PubMedID 26925425