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Tension Pneumothorax

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Tension Pneumothorax

  • Symptoms
  1. Sudden sharp Chest Pain
  2. Air Hunger
  • Signs
  1. Unilateral absent breath sounds
  2. Hyperresonant chest to percussion
  3. Cyanosis
  4. Respiratory distress
  5. Tachycardia
  6. Hypotension
  7. Tracheal deviation to contralateral side
  8. Neck vein distention
  1. Do not use XRay to diagnose a Tension Pneumothorax
  2. Confirm diagnosis by Chest XRay after decompression
  • Differential Diagnosis
  • Precautions
  1. Tension Pneumothorax is a clinical diagnosis (not an imaging diagnosis)
  2. Do not obtain a Chest XRay prior to needle decompression (delays are lethal)
  3. Needle decompression buys a small amount of time in which to place a Chest Tube for definitive management
  • Management
  1. Emergent Needle Thoracentesis
    1. Do not wait for Chest XRay
    2. Use 14 gauge (5 cm long) angiocatheter in children and 10 gauge (7.5 cm long) angiocatheter in adults
    3. Insert angiocatheter over the top of the third rib in the mid-clavicular line
  2. Chest Tube
    1. Perform immediately after needle decompression
    2. Insert over the top of the 5th rib in the mid-axillary line
  • References
  1. (2012) ATLS 9th ed, American College of Surgeons, Committee on Trauma, p. 96-9