Pulmonary Contusion

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

A pulmonary contusion is bruising or bleeding of your lung tissue that may cause pain and trouble breathing. It is a common lung injury after a blunt trauma to your chest. The force of the trauma may cause bleeding and swelling inside one or both of your lungs.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • Pressure from the oxygen mask may cause your skin to break down. You may also have abdominal swelling from swallowing air. If you need a breathing tube, you may have an increased risk of lung infection. Mucus in your lower airway may block air and cause your lung tissue to break down and bleed. Even with treatment, injuries causing your pulmonary contusion may be life-threatening.

  • If left untreated, a pulmonary contusion may cause your lungs to fail or collapse. When this happens, your lungs may not fill with air, and you will have trouble breathing. You may also have an increased risk of lung infection if your lungs do not work properly. You may have other life-threatening injuries that cause you to bleed or stop breathing.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

You may be given pain medicine to decrease your pain and make it easier for you to breathe. It may be given as a shot, in your IV, or through an epidural (a small tube inserted into your back). Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

Monitoring:

  • Arterial blood gases (ABG): Your blood is tested for the amount of oxygen, acids, and carbon dioxide it contains.

  • Intake & output: Your caregivers may need to know the amount of liquid you are taking in. They may also need to know how much you are urinating. Careful monitoring of your liquids is important to prevent excess fluid from building up in your lungs.

  • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a machine that shows how much oxygen is in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your ear, finger, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to the machine.

Tests:

  • Chest x-ray: It may take up to 6 hours after your injury before a pulmonary contusion can be seen on an x-ray. Caregivers will look for bruises or other injuries in your lungs.

  • Ultrasound: This machine uses sound waves to show pictures of your organs and tissues on a monitor. An ultrasound may be done to show if you have fluid, swelling, or bruises in your lungs.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your chest. The pictures may show areas that may be bleeding or broken bones. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

Treatment:

  • Breathe deeply and cough: This helps to open the air passages and bring up sputum from your lungs. You can breathe deeply and cough on your own, or with the help of an incentive spirometer. An incentive spirometer is a device that can help you take deeper breaths.

  • Oxygen: You may need extra oxygen if you have difficulty breathing. You breathe the oxygen through a face mask or a nasal cannula. A nasal cannula is a pair of short, thin tubes that rest just inside your nose.

  • Suctioning: This is done to remove any blood or mucus that is blocking your air passages. Caregivers may insert a tube connected to a suction machine into your mouth, nasal passages, or ET tube.

  • Chest tube: A chest tube is used to remove air, blood, or fluid from around your lungs or heart. This lets your lungs fill with air when you breathe, and helps your heart beat normally. A tube may be inserted through an incision in your chest to drain the air or fluid. The chest tube is attached to a container to collect the blood or fluid.

  • Noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation: This is a machine that will help you breathe. The machine gives you air through a mask or mouthpiece. If a mask is used, it may go over your nose and mouth, or just your nose.

  • Mechanical ventilation: You may need this if you cannot breathe properly. Caregivers may put an endotracheal (ET) tube into your mouth and throat to keep your trachea (windpipe) open and help you breathe. The tube will be connected to a ventilator (breathing machine) to help you breathe and get enough oxygen.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Pulmonary Contusion (Inpatient Care)

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