Chest Injuries

  • Medical Author: Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
  • Medical Editor: N Stuart Harris, MD, MFA
  • Medical Editor: Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
  • Medical Editor: James Kimo Takayesu, MD

Fact on Chest Injuries

  • 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 which causes:

What Are the Symptoms of Chest Injury?

  • 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.


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What Is the Treatment for Chest Injuries?

  • 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 for Chest Injuries

A person with a chest injury should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

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Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

"Initial evaluation and management of chest wall trauma in adults"

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