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Penetrating chest injuries are life-threatening wounds

You enjoy traveling on the weekends, and you set off like always this week, heading down the coast. You didn't think anything would go wrong, because the weather was clear and the amount of traffic was relatively low. Unfortunately, it only takes one person to cause a crash, and that's what happened to you.

After you awoke from the crash, you realized immediately that you were fighting for your life. You had several broken bones, and it hurt to take a breath. Once a doctor came to see you, you discovered you'd suffered horrific injuries including penetrating chest injuries that impacted your lung.

What happens when an object penetrates the chest?

Penetration of the chest has the potential to lead to pneumothorax, lung slash or laceration, wounds to the heart, or tearing or slashing of the major blood vessels.

A pneumothorax injury is one of the most severe, because air becomes trapped in the pocket outside the lung. Since the air pressure is high outside the lungs, the lungs can't expand. That means the patient can't breathe, and this could lead to death in minutes. The medical team has to immediately perform surgery to remove the extra air.

Lacerations of the blood vessels or lungs both cause serious problems including excessive bleeding and difficulty breathing, respectively. In both cases, emergency surgery is necessary. It's vital to leave the penetrating object in place, since it may press on the wound and prevent excessive bleeding until the operation can be performed.

Finally, a penetrating wound to the heart is a life-threatening injury. The object can't typically be removed, because if it is, the person begins to bleed extensively. Surgery is necessary to repair the heart.

Penetrating injuries are, fortunately, types that are normally treatable. Many patients recover completely after surgery. However, severe injuries sometimes lead to organ damage or other problems that impact a patient in the long term.

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