The lungs, blood arteries, heart, muscles, soft tissues, and breastbone are the areas of the chest that are most frequently injured. Sometimes, injuries to the shoulder blade, collarbone, or oesophagus occur. About 25% of fatal injuries in the United States are cause by chest traumas. Numerous wounds that can be fatal in the initial few minutes or hours after damage can be stabilised or treated in the emergency room without the need for significant surgery.
Causes of Chest Injury
Both blunt force (as in vehicle accidents, slip and falls, or sports injuries) and penetrating force (like a bullet or knife) can cause damage to the chest.
Because they impair breathing or circulation, chest injuries are frequently serious or immediately lethal. Some injuries cause such significant harm to the ribs and chest muscles (also known as the chest wall) that it becomes challenging for the lungs to expand normally.
Gas exchange, the lungs’ primary function in which oxygen is taken in and carbon dioxide is release, is hamper by damage to the lungs themselves.
If a chest injury results in a lot of blood, it may affect the circulatory system. Breathing is also hamper by internal bleeding, which occurs frequently. Additionally, a heart injury might interfere with the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body, which can have an impact on circulation.
The following are examples of chest injuries that are frequent or can be serious:
- Subtle heart injury
- Cardiac tamponade, or pressure on the heart brought on by blood clots,
- Blood between the lung and chest wall is known as hemothorax.
- Pulmonary contusions (lung bruises)
- Fractured ribs
- The big artery that delivers blood from the heart to the body can become injured, causing an aortic tear.
- Traumatic pneumothorax (also known as a collapsed lung; air between the lung and chest wall)
Symptoms of Chest Injuries
Usually, the wounded area is uncomfortable or tender. When they breathe in, the pain is worse. Possible bruises on the chest. Breathing problems can occur occasionally. If the injury is serious, the victim may experience extreme shortness of breath, drowsiness, or confusion, as well as chilly, sweaty, or blue skin. When someone is in shock or has severe respiratory failure, these symptoms may appear. People who are in shock frequently experience dangerously low blood pressure and a pounding heart.
The specific chest damage will determine any additional symptoms. For instance, air may occasionally build up behind the skin in pneumothorax patients. Skin that is affected looks and sounds cracked when touch.
When blood or fluid build-up in the sac surrounding the heart (a condition known as cardiac tamponade) impairs the heart’s ability to pump blood or when a tension pneumothorax occurs, the veins in the neck may become enlarged.
- Identifying Chest Injuries
- A medical opinion
An apparent chest injury is typical. The severity of chest injuries, however, cannot be asses without a medical examination.
The first thing medical professionals do is thoroughly inspect the neck and chest for injuries before using a stethoscope to check that all of the lungs are getting air. A pulse oximeter is a sensor that a doctor places on a patient’s finger to detect the quantity of oxygen in the blood when the patient is having trouble breathing. Sometimes medical professionals check the levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen.
Nearly invariably, a chest X-ray is performed. Most pneumothorax, hemothorax, collarbone fractures, and rib fracture instances are visible on a chest x-ray. To view the heart and lungs, however, a quick ultrasound scan is typically require. Emergency rooms and trauma centres both employ a technique known as E-FAST (Extended Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma). If medical professionals think that the aorta has been injure, they may perform a CT scan, an ultra-sonogram, and/or an aortography (angiography of the aorta).
Treatment for Chest Injuries
The fastest treatment is given to injuries that are immediately life-threatening. The type of treatment is determine by the injury.
If necessary, medical professionals support respiration and circulation for all injuries. People may get intravenous fluids, blood transfusions, and oxygen (for instance, via nasal prongs, face masks, or breathing tubes). Serious chest injuries result in hospital admissions for the victims.
Painkillers, often known as analgesics, may be administer to patients.
To drain blood (in hemothorax) or air (in pneumothorax) from the chest following various injuries, a chest tube must be implanted (thoracostomy). This process aids in the re-inflation of collapsed lungs. Most of the time, local anaesthesia alone can be use for insertion.