Sucking Chest Wound: Proper Treatment and Bandaging

25 September 2013
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25 September 2013, Comments: 0

A sucking chest wound is a type of pneumothorax. Pneumothorax Sucking Chest Woundis the collection of gas or air in the pleural cavity (chest). This pressure exerted on the lung disallows the lung to expand as it typically does causing to the lung to collapse partially or completely. Typically, the pressure in the pleural cavity is less than the pressure in the lungs. When air goes inside the pleural cavity, the pressure increases to be greater than the lungs’ causing it to collapse. One specific type of pneumothorax is chest wound or open pneumothorax.

Causes of sucking chest wounds

Any type of deep puncture wound to the chest may result to open pneumothorax including:

Signs and symptoms of sucking chest wounds

Although one is not sure whether the chest wound is a sucking chest wound or not, always treat it as one. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Sucking or hissing sound from the chest wound caused by the air entering and exiting the wound
  • Bulging neck veins
  • Hemoptysis or coughing up blood
  • Frothy blood coming from chest wound caused by the bubbles in the blood coming from the wound
  • Unequal chest due to collapsed lung on one side
  • Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
  • Abnormal rising of chest during inspiration
  • Shoulder pain increasing with breathing
  • Cyanosis of lips, inside of mouth, fingertips or nail beds
  • Weak pulse
  • Shock

Complications of sucking chest wound

If the buildup of air in the pleural cavity is not treated, it prevents the lungs from taking in air which can lead to several complications:

  • Tension pneumothorax
  • Suffocation of victim
  • Death.

First aid treatment for sucking chest wound

  • Call for emergency medical services and if given instructions, follow them. However, if none is given, follow the next few steps.
  • If protective gear is present, wear them. This is done to avoid infection.
  • Place the gloved hand over the wound.
  • Find anything that can be used to cover the wound, preferably a sterile non-porous material, to avoid more air from getting in the chest cavity, such as large sheet of plastic.
  • Prepare to do an occlusive dressing. This will enable pressure to relieve from building up.
  • Find all exit wounds and other unnoticed wounds to seal up as well.
  • Check and monitor for breathing.
  • “Burp” the wound by removing the dressing to allow air to leave and put it back on.

How to seal and dress a sucking chest wound

  • Put the bandage directly over the wound and do not extend at least two inches beyond the edge of the wound.
    • If the object is still protruding from the chest, place the airtight bandage around the object.
    • Stabilize the object with clean, bulky material and bandage.
  • Tape all sides except the bottom to allow air to escape through the chest wound

Gaining an overall understanding of respiratory injuries that require immediate actions to minimize injuries can help when taking first aid classes. Knowledge on injuries, such as sucking chest wound, will help explain some of the methods performed during these kinds of emergencies.

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