|Other names||Chest trauma, Commotio thoracis|
|A chest X-ray of a right sided pulmonary contusion associated with flail chest and subcutaneous emphysema|
A chest injury, also known as chest trauma, is any form of physical injury to the chest including the ribs, heart and lungs. Chest injuries account for 25% of all deaths from traumatic injury. Typically chest injuries are caused by blunt mechanisms such as direct, indirect, compression, contusion, deceleration, or blasts- caused by motor vehicle collisions or penetrating mechanisms such as stabbings.
Chest injuries can be classified as blunt or penetrating. Blunt and penetrating injuries have different pathophysiologies and clinical courses.
Specific types of injuries include:
Most blunt injuries are managed with relatively simple interventions like tracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation and chest tube insertion. Diagnosis of blunt injuries may be more difficult and require additional investigations such as CT scanning. Penetrating injuries often require surgery, and complex investigations are usually not needed to come to a diagnosis. Patients with penetrating trauma may deteriorate rapidly, but may also recover much faster than patients with blunt injury.