COMMON TREATMENT FOR CHEST INJURIES
Regardless of the type of chest injury, initial treatment is almost always the
same. Begin by examining the casualty to detect the chest injury.
a. Question the casualty, if he is conscious, to see if he has difficulty in
b. Observe the casualty's bare chest and upper abdomen for respiratory rate
c. Check for equal movement of both sides of the casualty's chest.
d. Examine the entire chest wall (including the back) beneath any overlying
e. Listen to the casualty's chest with a stethoscope. Listen to both sides of the
chest, comparing both sides for volume, loudness, and equality.
TYPES OF CHEST INJURIES
a. Penetrating Injuries. A penetrating injury may be a hole in the thoracic
cavity that allows air inside the thorax, the air filling the thoracic cavity (pneumothorax).
A penetrating injury may cause blood to flow into the thoracic cavity (hemothorax), filling
the thorax with blood.
b. Blunt Injuries. These are blunt injuries: rib and sternum damage; flail chest;
and cardiac contusion.
c. Results of Penetrating/Blunt Injuries. Penetrating and blunt injuries can
cause considerable damage. Both types of injury can cause air to build up outside the
lung in the thoracic cavity, and the individual has simple pneumothorax. The pressure
has not been great enough to cause the lung to collapse. A blunt injury or a penetrating
injury may cause air to build up to such great pressure in the thoracic cavity that the
lungs collapse. Tension pneumothorax is the name of this condition.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF TREATMENT FOR CHEST TRAUMA
Follow these general principles in treating for chest trauma:
a. Maintain normal pleural pressure by the use of suction devices throughout the
treatment. Keep the pleural space empty by using suctioning devices such as hemovac
or pleuralvac. Monitor the suctioning device frequently, regardless of which device is