Background: Chest injuries contribute significantly to trauma deaths, either as the primary cause or through secondary injury to the brain from hypoxia or hypotension. Many chest injuries are life threatening and need to be addressed within minutes upon arrival at the hospital. Methods: Diagnostic and treatment modalities for the various kinds and degrees of chest injuries are discussed. Results: Life-threatening chest injuries include massive hemothorax, cardiac injuries, pericardial tamponade, air embolism and tension pneumothorax. Other chest injuries involving the trachea, bronchi, lungs and great vessels are not quite as emergent yet can be lethal if unrecognized or not dealt with in a timely manner. Conclusions: The primary function of the chest viscera is oxygen delivery. Injuries can not only be lethal but can contribute significantly to post-injury complications which may lead to a bad outcome or significant disability.
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