Chest Injuries Overview
A chest injury can occur as the result of an accidental or deliberate penetration of a foreign object into the chest. This type of injury can also result from a blunt trauma, leading to chest wall injury (causing rib bruises, fracture, lung or heart contusions).
Chest Injury Symptoms
- Difficulty breathing, failure of the chest to expand normally, crunching sounds in the ribs, bruising, and coughing up blood indicate a chest injury.
- One segment of the chest wall may not move with breathing or move opposite to the rest of the chest wall (flail chest).
- Even without an obvious external injury, a significant internal injury can occur.
Chest Injuries Treatment
- An object that remains in the chest injury should not be removed.
- An airtight dressing such as tin foil or a plastic sack should be used as quickly as possible to cover any hole that extends into the chest cavity.
- The injured person should be positioned with the injured side down.
- The injured person should be given pure oxygen to breathe.
- The neck and back of the injured person should be immobilized after a possible chest injury.
- CPR may be necessary.
When to Seek Medical Care
A person with a chest injury should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Medically reviewed by Martin E Zipser, MD; American board of Surgery
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/9/2014
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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