Rapid deceleration can cause blunt force trauma injuries to the chest. These injuries can be serious and life threatening.
Even if there are no other visible injuries, a medical evaluation is necessary to rule out any chest injuries. If an X-ray shows any signs of injury, a CT scan may be performed. If a driver has sustained blunt force trauma to the front of the chest and he or she has a history of heart disease or is elderly, an EKG may be performed. If the tests are clear and the patient shows no obvious symptoms, he or she may be sent home and should be informed about the possibility of delayed symptoms such as light-headedness, severe chest pain, or breathing problems.
A blunt force trauma to the chest can cause a cardiac contusion. This injury is a possibility in case of a high-speed collision or rollover accident and is characterized by the following symptoms:
- fracture of the sternum
- history of heart disease
- pain or tenderness over the mid-chest area
- myocardial infraction
Although quite uncommon, blunt force trauma to the chest can cause myocardial infraction. It can result from a blood clot in a coronary artery or dissection of a coronary artery. The most commonly affected artery is the left anterior descending artery.
Severe blunt force injury to the heart may cause immediate death. If the patient survives, he or she may experience low blood pressure that can lead to rupture, because any fluids given can increase blood pressure. Common signs of a serious heart injury include muffled heart sounds, distended veins in the neck, and low blood pressure.
If the rib is fractured as a result of a blunt force trauma to the chest, it can lead to pneumothorax. Symptoms include chest pain, low oxygenation, absent breath sounds, and shortness of breath. Not all cases of pneomothorax are evident on X-rays and silent pneumothorax can be seen only on a CT scan.
Bruising of the lungs may take up to 24 hours to manifest itself and usually goes away in a week’s time. However, appropriate treatment is necessary to prevent pneumonia and to control pain.
This is a rare condition that affects only about one percent of patients that suffer a blunt force trauma to the chest. Unfortunately, in most cases, it causes immediate death.
Blunt force trauma to the chest can cause aortic rupture, rupture of the heart, or bleeding into the chest space, a condition known as hemothorax. Injury is often hard to diagnose and may not show on an X-ray. It can be seen on ultrasound.