One common type of injury you may suffer in a car crash is a lung injury. Victims of crashes may develop bruised lungs or suffer from collapsed lungs due to the impact.

Penetrating chest injuries are the cause of some lung wounds, but not all lung injuries occur because of penetration through the body. Broken ribs could rupture a lung by piercing it, or inflated lungs could burst upon impact in some circumstances.

What are some risks of penetrating chest injuries?

Penetrating chest injuries can lead to a couple of wounds including:

  • Pneumothorax
  • Penetrating lung injuries due to slashing

These are both dangerous to victims and require quick medical treatment.

Pneumothorax occurs when the penetrating object lacerates the pleura. This causes air to become trapped outside the lung, preventing the lung from expanding appropriately. Since the patient can’t take a breath, he or she begins to suffocate. To save the patient’s life, the air must be removed from the pocket as soon as possible.

Lung lacerations caused by slashing impacts result in bleeding of the lung. This can occur inside or outside the lung. Many patients who suffer from this injury struggle to breathe, so they require emergency surgery.

Can you suffer a collapsed lung during a car crash?

Yes, it’s possible to suffer from a collapsed lung. It happens when air enters the pleural space. Essentially, a collapsed lung is a pneumothorax. However, not all collapsed lungs are pneumothorax. If only a portion of the lung is affected, then it’s known as atelectasis instead. People with minor symptoms may have only a small part of the lungs affected, while those with significant trouble breathing may have more of the lungs affected. Medical providers identify pneumothorax and atelectasis by taking chest X-rays.

How do medical providers treat lung injuries?

It depends on the severity. For minor atelectasis, no treatment may be needed, or only a small puncture could be required. On the other hand, a full collapsed lung may require a thoracostomy, where a chest tube is inserted to relieve pressure. Thoracentesis may also be used, which is when a needle is inserted into the space between the chest wall and lungs. Using a needle allows excess fluids to be removed as well as to remove air in the cavity. The procedure itself takes only 10 to 15 minutes in most cases, quickly allowing patients to breathe easier without as much of a struggle.