Sternal Compression test is a thoracic examination procedure that tests for rib fracture and costochondritis. 


Patient should be awake and cooperative during the Sternal Compression Test.

  1. Patient assumes a supine lying position.
  2. The examiner applies a gentle downward force directly over the sternum.
  3. The examiner checks for any sign of discomfort or pain.

The examiner applies gentle downward force over the sternum.


Positive Sternal Compression Test

There is positive Sternal Compression Test when there is localized pain.

  • Pain over the lateral rib border could indicate rib fracture
  • Pain over the costosternal junction could indicate costochondritis or Tiestze Syndrome

Clinical Notes

In case rib fracture is suspected, imaging should be done before a sternal compression test. Examiners may ask the patient to cross her hands over the chest area before applying pressure to avoid inappropriate patient contact.