Blunt Thoracic Trauma

  • Edward J. Caruana
  • Sridhar Rathinam


Blunt thoracic trauma (BTT) accounts for a significant proportion of chest injuries, which may present in isolation or in the polytrauma patient. There are two well-defined groups of patients who present with BTT:
  • Patients with high-energy injuries who tend to have multi-trauma and are critically ill. The aim in managing these patients is to identify life-threatening underlying injuries and stabilise them as much as possible prior to referring to thoracic surgery. Occasionally, the need for urgent surgery by a thoracic surgeon is required, but in most cases minor procedures which can be performed in the prehospital setting and emergency department (ED) will suffice to achieve clinical stability. Specific conditions may require the skills of a specialist cardiothoracic surgeon once clinical stability is achieved.

  • Patients with isolated low-energy thoracic trauma with rib fractures and some of the underlying complications. The treatment of these patients tends to concentrate on respiratory support and effective analgesia. In patients with significant fractures and flail segments, early surgical fixation of rib fractures should be performed to achieve better analgesia, faster recovery and prevent prolonged ventilation.

This chapter aims to offer an overview on blunt thoracic trauma and outline practical tips and tricks in the surgical management of blunt thoracic trauma.


Blunt thoracic trauma Thoracic Trauma Rib fixation Tractotomy Diaphragmatic injuries 



Illustrated diagrams by Master Akhash V Rathinam.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Thoracic SurgeryGlenfield Hospital, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS TrustLeicesterUK

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