Sternal foramen

Last revised by Laura Gregory on 3 Jan 2023

Sternal foramen (or perforated sternum) is a developmental variant of the sternum and results from incomplete fusion of the sternal ossification centers. They are common, occurring in approximately 5% of the population (range 4.3-6.7%). They are most commonly found in the inferior aspect of the sternal body as the 2nd to 4th sternebrae most often form from multiple primary ossification centers. Incomplete fusion of multiple right and left centers in a single sternebra can result in the formation of a sternal foramen.

Small foramina can be mistaken for sternal fractures.

Xiphoid foramen can also occur, but is of lesser clinical significance 4.

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