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Initial evaluation

Chest Trauma Initial Evaluation

, February 09, 2004

Summary

Hypoxia and hypoventilation are the primary killers of acute trauma patients. Assessment of ventilation is therefore given high priority in the primary survey - as the second ‘B’ or Breathing stage. It may be obvious that there is a ventilatory problem during assessment of the airway. Similarly, the identification or actual severity of certain conditions may only be determined subsequently, after assessment of the circulation or the use of monitoring or diagnostic adjuncts.

Tension pneumothorax

Chest Trauma Pneumothorax - Tension

, February 09, 2004

Tension pneumothorax

Tension pneumothorax is the progressive build-up of air within the pleural space, usually due to a lung laceration which allows air to escape into the pleural space but not to return. Positive pressure ventilation may exacerbate this ‘one-way-valve’ effect.  Progressive build-up of pressure in the pleural space pushes the mediastinum to the opposite hemithorax, and obstructs venous return to the heart. This leads to circulatory instability and may result in traumatic arrest.

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