Patient Care

Chest Injuries

What are Chest Injuries?

The common types of Chest Injuries are damaged blood vessels, organ contusion or laceration, pneumothorax, haemothorax and rib fractures.

There are two types of damaged blood vessels:

  • Laceration or incomplete tear of the vessel
  • Transection or complete tear of the vessel, which can cause massive bleeding within the chest

Transection and Laceration

Organ contusion or laceration occurs when vital organs within the chest (e.g. heart, lungs, diaphragm) develop bruises (contusion) or tears (laceration) that may lead to massive bleeding within the chest.

Pneumothorax refers to the abnormal collection of air within the space of the lungs. Some may be severe and cause the lungs to collapse.


Haemothorax refers to the abnormal collection of blood within the space of the lungs.

Rib fractures refer to broken bones of the ribs. Fractures can be single, multiple or can result in flail chest. Flail chest occurs when three or more ribs are each broken in more than one place, resulting in floating ribs.

Rib fractures

How are Chest Injuries diagnosed?

Diagnosis of Chest Injuries is done through:

  • X-rays
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scans
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Angiograms
What are the treatment options for Chest Injuries?

Treatment for Chest Injuries include:

  • Thoracotomy is an operation that involves a large horizontal cut across the chest to gain access to the chest organs (e.g. heart, lungs, diaphragm) or the blood vessels that are severely damaged, causing massive bleeding.
  • Chest drain refers to the insertion of a plastic tube into the chest to drain off the abnormal fluid/blood or air collection within the space of the lungs.
  • Rib fracture fixation is an operation to fix and stabilise rib fractures (especially flail chest) using screws and plates.
Find A Doctor

Click here to access our Find A Doctor directory for a list of doctors treating this condition across our NUHS institutions.

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National University Health System
  • National University Hospital
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