Uncommon Chest Injuries Cause by Blunt Trauma to the Chest

While many people are familiar with broken, bruised, or cracked ribs due to blunt trauma to the chest, many are not familiar with the other less common factors that can happen with a blunt chest injury. Heart trauma, joint dislocations, and even scraping the spleen are possible conditions that can happen due to blunt trauma to the chest. Here are some uncommon, and sometimes curious, disorders and injuries that occur due to chest trauma.

First And Second Rib Fractures

While it is very common to bruise, break, or fracture a rib, injuring the first or second rib is considered a completely different diagnosis than simply fracturing a rib. In order to break these ribs, excessive energy is required. When the first or second rib is fractured, it usually means that there are other underlying issues such as major cranial, thoracic, vascular, and abdominal injuries. Sometimes first and second rib fractures will require surgery to remove a large and displaced rib fragment.

Scapular Fractures

These fractures are very uncommon, but can occur when blunt trauma to the chest occurs. High energy forces are required to cause a scapular fracture, and many times there are many different associated injuries that come in conjunction with a scapular fracture. In fact, the rate of related injuries is seventy five to one hundred percent. The most common related injuries are head, abdomen, or other chest injuries.

A scapular fracture is most commonly located in the neck or body of the scapula. In excess of thirty percent of scapular fractures are actually missed during an initial evaluation. However, when one is discovered it is imperative that a doctor check for other major vascular injuries as well as injuries of the thorax, neurovascular bundle of the ipsilateral arm, and abdomen. Standard treatment for a scapular fracture is to immobilize the shoulder.

Scapulothoracic Dissociation

This injury can occur when blunt trauma to the chest happens. It is often called a flail shoulder, and it is an extremely rare injury. It occurs when strong traction forces actually pull the scapula and other parts of the shoulder girdle away from the thorax. This severely compromises the muscular, nervous, and vascular components of the shoulder and arm. It can cause significant hematoma formation, edema in the shoulder, loss of sensation and motor function in the shoulder, and decreased or loss pulses in the arm. For patients experiencing this, there is very little treatment. The best option for many people is an above the elbow amputation.