Punctured lung: How is it managed?

A punctured lung can be caused by a knife wound, gunshot or blunt trauma in a vehicular accident. Generally, if the lung is punctured, it results to traumatic pneumothorax or buildup of air amidst the chest cavity and lung tissue or pleural space.

It is an uncommon condition but can be dangerous and necessitates immediate evaluation and treatment. The treatment is based on the seriousness of the injury and response of the lungs and adjacent tissues.

Punctured lung due to chest wounds

punctured-lung

Since a punctured lung is accompanied by shortness of breath, the initial measure of emergency team is to provide the individual with supplemental oxygen.

A large-sized chest wound that involves penetration of the lungs might cause a sucking chest wound where air is drawn in via the wound every time the individual tries to breath.

Healthcare professionals apply a specialized bandage that contains petroleum jelly on the wound to create a secure seal. The bandage is only taped on the borders so that air can move out of the wound.

Oxygen therapy

In most cases, an individual with this form of injury should be taken to the nearest emergency department or call for emergency assistance to the scene.

Since a punctured lung is accompanied by shortness of breath, the initial measure of emergency team is to provide the individual with supplemental oxygen. The oxygen helps in accelerating the pleural resorption of air.

Wait-and-see approach

Once a doctor is seen, a small-sized wound might only require the wait-and-see approach. Take note that small regions of a punctured lung might not collapse and can recuperate on their own.

It is vital to let the doctor decide on this since a delay in treatment can result to complications such as a severe infection or the lung could not re-inflate properly.

Catheter aspiration and tube insertion

A small needle might be inserted amidst the 2nd and 3rd ribs into the air that accumulated between the chest cavity and the lungs. One point of the needle is linked to a syringe which is used to get rid of the air. This is performed until the lung is re-inflated.

If unsuccessful, a tube is inserted in the same manner but linked to a suction device that steadily gets rid of the air over several hours or days.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on a punctured lung is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the indications of this injury, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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