Chest Injuries:

Any injury to the chest (damage to the area between the neck and the abdomen including the ribs) can cause impairment to breathing leading to hypoxia. Hypoxia is a pathological condition in which the body as a whole (generalised hypoxia), or a region off the body (tissue hypoxia) is deprived of adequate oxygen supply. An undiagnosed chest injury can cause one or both lungs to collapse causing pressure on the heart; and ultimately cardiac arrest.

The two types of chest injury are:

1. Closed:

The skin has not broken and air does not enter the chest cavity through the chest wall.

2. Open:

The chest wall has been penetrated by a foreign object.

Causes of Chest Injury:

  • Blunt Trauma.
  • Penetrating objects.
  • Compression (crush injury).

Examples of Chest Injury:

  • Fractures ribs.
  • Fail segment.
  • Pneumothorax (air entering the pleural cavity).
  • Open Pneumothorax (open sucking wound).
  • Haemothorax (blood entering the pleura cavity).
  • Tension Pneumothorax (air trapped in the pleura cavity under positive pressure displacing other organs).

NB: THE PLEURA CAVITY is the space between two pleura (serous membrane) visceral and parietal, which cover the lungs.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Uneven-unusual chest movement.
  • Panic and anxiety.
  • Pain at site of injury.
  • Blueness around the lips.
  • Pain.
  • Rapid heart beat.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Poor oxygenation (SATS below 94%).

NB: SATS or Oxygen Saturation is a measure of how much oxygen the blood is carrying as a percentage of the maximum it could carry. A healthy individual would have SATS between 94 -100%.

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