Hemothorax occurs if blood builds up amidst the chest wall and the lungs. The buildup of volume of blood in the pleural cavity can lead to the collapse of the lung as the blood pushes on the outside of the lung.
The buildup of blood in the chest has a variety of causes. It is likely to occur after major chest injuries or those that involve opening of the chest wall especially lung or heart surgery. Some conditions that causes the poor clotting of the blood can also result to hemothorax.
What are the indications?
The usual signs of hemothorax include:
- Feeling nervous or anxious
- Chest pain or heaviness
- Difficulty breathing
- Unusually rapid heart rate
- Pale skin
- Cold sweat
- High fever over 100 degrees F
In case the heart is racing and there is difficulty breathing, bring the individual to the nearest emergency department for assessment.
Management of hemothorax
Upon arrival at the emergency department, the doctor places the individual under a ventilator with the insertion of the tube via the nose into the windpipe to support breathing. This also ensures the individual receives enough oxygen.
When dealing with hemothorax, drainage of the blood from the chest cavity is a priority. The doctor might insert a tube via the chest muscles and tissues and into the chest cavity to drain any accumulated fluid, blood or air. This tube is left in the chest for a few days if the lung has been damaged so that it can fully expand again.
In case the bleeding persists even as the tube drains out the blood, chest surgery is necessary to deal with the cause.
What is the outlook?
A doctor must be seen right away after sustaining a serious chest injury and if the individual has difficulty breathing for more than a minute. A doctor must be seen if any of these symptoms develop.
Remember that hemothorax is a serious condition. Nevertheless, it will not result to any lasting damage if diagnosed and promptly treated.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on hemothorax is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs of the injury by taking a standard first aid course with Victoria First Aid.