Health Resources

Chest Injuries

Common Types of Chest Injuries

The common types of chest injuries are damaged blood vessels, organ contusion or laceration, pneumothorax, haemothorax and rib fractures.

1) There are two types of damaged blood vessels:
  • Laceration or incomplete tear of the vessel
  • Transection or complete tear of the vessel, which can cause massive bleeding within the chest

Transection and Laceration


2) Organ contusion or laceration occurs when vital organs within the chest (e.g. heart, lungs, diaphragm) develop bruises (contusion) or tear (laceration) that may lead to massive bleeding within the chest.

3) Pneumothorax refers to the abnormal collection of air within the space of the lungs. Some may be severe and causes the lungs to collapse.


Pneumothorax with collapsed lungs


4) Haemothorax refers to the abnormal collection of blood within the space of the lungs.

5) Rib fractures refers to broken bones of the ribs. Fractures can be single, multiple or can result in flail chest. Flail chest occurs when three or more ribs are each broken in more than one place, resulting in floating ribs.


Rib fractures with flail chest

Diagnosis and Treatment


  • X-ray
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Angiogram


  • Thoracotomy is an operation that involves a large horizontal cut across the chest to gain access to the chest organs (e.g. heart, lungs, diaphragm) or the blood vessels that are severely damaged, causing massive bleeding.
  • Chest drain refer to inserting a plastic tube into the chest to drain off the abnormal fluid/blood or air collection within the space of the lungs.
  • Rib fractures fixation is an operation to fix and stabilise rib fractures (especially flail chest) using screws and plates.
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