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Concept: Chest trauma


INTRODUCTION: Blunt cardiac rupture is an exceedingly rare injury. CASE PRESENTATION: We report a case of blunt cardiac trauma in a 43-year-old Caucasian German mother with pectus excavatum who presented after a car accident in which she had been sitting in the front seat holding her two-year-old boy in her arms. The mother was awake and alert during the initial two hours after the accident but then proceeded to hemodynamically collapse. The child did not sustain any severe injuries. Intraoperatively, a combined one-cm laceration of the left atrium and right ventricle was found. CONCLUSION: Patients with pectus excavatum have an increased risk for cardiac rupture after blunt chest trauma because of compression between the sternum and spine. Therefore, patients with pectus excavatum and blunt chest trauma should be admitted to a Level I Trauma Center with a high degree of suspicion.

Concepts: Heart, Pectus excavatum, Chest, Sternum, Ventricle, Left ventricle, Physical trauma, Chest trauma


Small 14F pigtail catheters (PCs) have been shown to drain air quite well in patients with traumatic pneumothorax (PTX). But their effectiveness in draining blood in patients with traumatic hemothorax (HTX) or hemopneumothorax (HPTX) is unknown. We hypothesized that 14F PCs can drain blood as well as large-bore 32F to 40F chest tubes. We herein report our early case series experience with PCs in the management of traumatic HTX and HPTX.

Concepts: Hospital, Pulmonary contusion, Pneumothorax, Physical trauma, Chest tube, Hemothorax, Chest trauma, Hemopneumothorax


Most cases of hemothorax are related to blunt or penetrating chest trauma. Criteria for surgical intervention for initial hemothorax are well defined. Appropriate management of retained hemothorax following initial trauma management is critical, and the best approach remains controversial. Spontaneous hemothorax is much less common and results from a variety of pathologic processes. This article reviews the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of traumatic and spontaneous hemothorax in modern practice.

Concepts: Pathology, Hospital, Surgery, Pulmonary contusion, Medical diagnosis, Psychological trauma, Hemothorax, Chest trauma


Pulmonary contusion (PC) is a leading injury in blunt chest trauma and is most commonly caused by motor vehicle crashes (MVC). To improve understanding of the relationship between insult and outcome, this study relates PC severity to crash, occupant, and injury parameters in MVCs.

Concepts: Pulmonary contusion, Crash, Chest trauma, Flail chest


We recently demonstrated that a blunt chest trauma, a strong inducer of the posttraumatic systemic inflammatory response and one of the most critical injuries in polytrauma patients, significantly delayed fracture healing in rats, possibly by the interaction of the systemic inflammation with early regeneration processes locally at the fracture site. The underlying cellular mechanisms, however, have as yet remained unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyze the cellular and morphologic composition of the early fracture callus after a blunt chest trauma.

Concepts: Inflammation, English-language films, Anti-inflammatory, Sepsis, Physical trauma, Bone healing, Chest trauma, Flail chest


The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of delayed complications, specifically hemothorax, and functional outcome in patients with isolated sternal fracture discharged from the emergency department (ED) compared to patients with other minor thoracic trauma.

Concepts: Hospital, Pulmonary contusion, Chest trauma, Sternal fracture


Low-energy blunt chest trauma can cause commotio cordis and ventricular fibrillation (VF) in otherwise healthy young individuals. If the chest wall impact occurs during a narrow vulnerable window of ventricular repolarization, the generated premature ventricular impulse can lead to VF and sudden death. Atrial fibrillation (AF) in association with a blunt chest trauma has not yet been reported in a child or adolescent. Our case describes a healthy 16-year-old boy who suffered blunt chest trauma during football practice. He was found to have AF, which resolved in 3 days without any therapy. He did not have any identifiable structural or electrical cardiac abnormality and had no previous history of arrhythmia. We hypothesize that AF, similar to commotio cordis-induced VF, may occur as a result of a blunt chest trauma in healthy young individuals. Animal studies evaluating arrhythmias related to chest wall impact may elucidate the timing and mechanism of AF induced by commotio cordis.

Concepts: Heart, Atrial fibrillation, Medical emergencies, Cardiac arrest, Cardiac electrophysiology, Adolescence, Chest trauma, Electrical conduction system of the heart


This review aims to answer the most common questions in routine surgical practice during the first 48 h of blunt chest trauma (BCT) management. Two authors identified relevant manuscripts published since January 1994 to January 2014. Using preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses statement, they focused on the surgical management of BCT, excluded both child and vascular injuries and selected 80 studies. Tension pneumothorax should be promptly diagnosed and treated by needle decompression closely followed with chest tube insertion (Grade D). All traumatic pneumothoraces are considered for chest tube insertion. However, observation is possible for selected patients with small unilateral pneumothoraces without respiratory disease or need for positive pressure ventilation (Grade C). Symptomatic traumatic haemothoraces or haemothoraces >500 ml should be treated by chest tube insertion (Grade D). Occult pneumothoraces and occult haemothoraces are managed by observation with daily chest X-rays (Grades B and C). Periprocedural antibiotics are used to prevent chest-tube-related infectious complications (Grade B). No sign of life at the initial assessment and cardiopulmonary resuscitation duration >10 min are considered as contraindications of Emergency Department Thoracotomy (Grade C). Damage Control Thoracotomy is performed for either massive air leakage or refractive shock or ongoing bleeding enhanced by chest tube output >1500 ml initially or >200 ml/h for 3 h (Grade D). In the case of haemodynamically stable patients, early video-assisted thoracic surgery is performed for retained haemothoraces (Grade B). Fixation of flail chest can be considered if mechanical ventilation for 48 h is probably required (Grade B). Fixation of sternal fractures is performed for displaced fractures with overlap or comminution, intractable pain or respiratory insufficiency (Grade D). Lung herniation, traumatic diaphragmatic rupture and pericardial rupture are life-threatening situations requiring prompt diagnosis and surgical advice. (Grades C and D). Tracheobronchial repair is mandatory in cases of tracheal tear >2 cm, oesophageal prolapse, mediastinitis or massive air leakage (Grade C). These evidence-based surgical indications for BCT management should support protocols for chest trauma management.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Surgery, Pulmonary contusion, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Pneumothorax, The First 48, Chest trauma, Sternal fracture


The study aimed to establish the benefits of using chest tubes with negative pleural suction against trapped water in patients with penetrating or blunt chest trauma who underwent tube thoracostomy, in terms of the incidence of complications, such as persistent air leak, clotted hemothorax, empyema, and duration of stay.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Pulmonary contusion, Pneumothorax, Chest tube, Hemothorax, Penetrating trauma, Chest trauma, Flail chest


Extent of lung contusion on initial computed tomography (CT) scan predicts the occurrence of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in blunt chest trauma patients. We hypothesized that lung ultrasonography (LUS) on admission could also predict subsequent ARDS.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Medical emergencies, Acute respiratory distress syndrome, Pulmonary contusion, Pulmonary alveolus, Pneumothorax, Causes of death, Chest trauma