Chest Injuries

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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 (causing rib bruises, fracture, lung or heart contusions).

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.

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.

Reviewed on 5/22/2018

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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