The majority of penetrating injury results from stab injuries with a knife or gunshot wound injuries. Other penetrating injuries are less common; however the mechanism of injury is crucial in the diagnosis and subsequent exclusion of other thoracic injuries caused by penetrating trauma. Penetrating injuries to the thoracic cage are life-threatening and can result in all of the life-threatening thoracic trauma injuries: airway disruption, tension pneumothorax, open pneumothorax, massive haemothorax, flail chest and cardiac tamponade. Further potential life-threatening injuries such as oesophageal injury and aortic disruption are also possible with penetrating injuries to the thorax. These injuries should be dealt with in a systematic approach based on the principles of advanced trauma life support and should be managed in a definite centre of care, in the right environment, with the necessary expertise and equipment.
KeywordsCardiac tamponade Stab injury Chest drain Thoracic trauma Haemothorax Pneumothorax Aortic injury Thoracotomy Median sternotomy Gunshot wound