Thoracic trauma is an injury to the chest wall and organs inside the rib cage following a collision, accident or physical exertion. It can be penetrating (open) or internal (closed) and cause injuries to several organs: the heart, great vessels, lungs, esophagus, trachea, etc. In cases of chest trauma, life-threatening injuries are treated first.
Simple rib fracture is the most common chest injury. A chest X-ray can detect any associated injuries, such as pneumothorax (air around the lung). Treatment of a fractured rib does not always involve surgery. In cases of simple fractures, pain medication is prescribed and the bone repairs itself over the following weeks.
If the trauma is more significant, with multiple rib fractures or a fragment of bone separated from the rest of the ribs (flail chest), surgical stabilization can be performed.
In case of the presence of air (pneumothorax) or fluid/blood (hemothorax) in the thoracic cavity, it may be necessary to place a chest drain. This is often enough to treat the problem.