Chest trauma or chest injury are injuries to the area between the chest and the heart.
The injury can be to the organs inside the chest wall or the chest wall. The trauma can be minor or seriously damaging.
Chest trauma can be caused by a blunt force, such as compression, blasts, etc., or by a penetrating force, such as stabbing.
Lesions in the chest area
- Rib fractures: A break (or fracture) in the bones of the rib cage.
- Clavicle fractures: A break (or fracture) between the shoulder and breastbone, i.e., collarbone.
- Flail chest: Three or more bones break (or fracture) in several places in the rib cage.
- Contusions: Blow to the chest that injures the blood capillaries.
- Sternal fractures: A break or fracture in the breastbone, i.e., sternum.
Lesions in the lung area
- Lung contusion: A bruise caused by chest trauma that damages the blood capillaries in the lung.
- Hemothorax: Accumulation of blood between the wall of the chest and the lungs, i.e., in the pleural cavity.
- Lung laceration: A tear in the lung tissue caused by severe chest trauma.
- Pneumothorax (Collapsed Lung): Accumulation of air between the lungs and the wall of the chest, i.e., in the pleural cavity.
- Hemopneumothorax: Blood and air collect in the space between the lungs and the chest wall.
Lesions in the airway
- Trachea-bronchial tear: A puncture or laceration in the bronchial tree caused due to a blunt or penetrating force to the chest.
Lesions in the heart
- Pericardial tamponade: A heart compression brought on by a fluid/blood accumulation in the pericardium.
- Traumatic arrest: Heart ceases to beat as a result of blunt or penetrating trauma.
- Myocardial contusion: A bruise caused by blunt trauma to the muscle of the heart.
Lesions in the blood vessel
- Thoracic aorta injury: Damage to the aorta caused by a blunt or penetrating force to the artery.
- Traumatic aortic rupture: Tear or rupture that cuts through the aorta layers as a result of trauma to the artery.
Other lesions in the torso
- Oesophagal injury: Because of trauma, a rupture in the oesophagus can occur and cause the contents of the oesophagus to leak into the surrounding area.
- Diaphragm injury: Physical trauma causes a tear in the diaphragm, the muscle that runs along the bottom of the ribcage and is essential for breathing.
Generally, the symptoms and signs of chest trauma consist of:
- Overwhelming pain in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Bruising in the chest, lungs, or arteries
- Tenderness or soreness in the ribs
- Pain while inhaling
- Blockage in the blood flow
- Swelling up of chest, lungs, or arteries
- Cracking sensation in the ribs or beneath the skin
- Spitting out blood while coughing
The two main causal factors of chest trauma include:
Blunt force refers to the force produced when direct contact or collision with a blunt object occurs. It results in contusions, fractures, or crushing of the bones in the chest, lungs, or heart region. It is caused by motor vehicle crashes, physical assaults, injuries in sports, and falls.
Penetrating force refers to the force produced when a sharp object penetrates the skin and cuts through body tissue. It is an open wound injury that results in the tearing of the bones and arteries in the chest, heart, and lungs. It is caused by a gunshot and stab wounds.
To diagnose a chest trauma or injury, a doctor performs the following tests besides a blood test and checking the oxygen level in your blood through a pulse oximeter:
- Chest X-ray: This test uses a concentrated beam of radiation to create black and white images of the structures present within your chest, lungs, and heart.
- Chest Ultrasound: This imaging test uses sound waves to see the organs in your chest area and transmits the images onto a monitor screen.
- Chest CT Scan: This test uses a special X-ray machine to examine and produce detailed images of the abnormalities present in the organs of your chest, lungs, and heart – to determine the type and cause of chest trauma.
The treatment of chest trauma depends on the cause and severity of the injury.
Minor injuries are treated with close monitoring and pain control medication.
Pain relief medication also plays a big role in severe injuries – it helps prevent splinting of the muscles in the chest. Sometimes, lesions in the chest and heart, particularly the lung area, require mechanical ventilation or oxygen support.
Most blunt traumas or injuries require operative treatment, such as tracheal intubation and chest tube insertion or drainage.
Most penetrating injuries require immediate admission to the hospital and surgical treatment.
Chest trauma refers to injuries in the chest, heart, and lung areas. There are different types of chest trauma caused by blunt or penetrating force.
If you experience any symptoms like difficulty breathing, extreme chest pain, spit-up blood while coughing, etc. – you can reach out to our doctors at the CK Birla Hospital(R) for a diagnosis.
Our doctors at the CK Birla Hospital(R) follow internationally set clinical protocols and conduct top-notch tests for chest trauma diagnosis. Our surgeons accordingly carry out safe and precision-driven surgeries for the treatment.
For the diagnosis and treatment of chest trauma – visit the CK Birla Hospital(R) or book an appointment with Dr (Brig) Ashok K. Rajput (Retd)