Bruised lung or pulmonary contusion is caused by trauma to the chest. The capillaries get damaged, consequently, blood and other fluids buildup in the lung tissue. The surplus fluid adversely affects exchange of gas, thereby leading to insufficient levels of oxygen. There is no cut or tear of the lung tissue in pulmonary contusion.
Diagnosis of a bruised lung is made on the basis of the trauma, X-ray of the chest and physical examination. By and large, a bruised lung heals on its own with supportive care. On the other hand, intensive care may be required in cases of severely compromised breathing.
How Do You Get A Bruised Lung?
- The chief cause is blunt trauma to the chest wall. This happens when the moving chest strikes a fixed object. Falls, assaults and sports injuries are important causes.
- Explosion injury is another significant cause.
- Traffic accidents are also known to cause bruised lung; when the chest wall collides with the inside of the car.
- Penetrating trauma can also cause bruised lung. Contusion resulting from penetration by a rapidly moving projectile bruises and impairs the lung tissue.
Symptoms Of Bruised Lung
A bruised lung is usually manifested as:
- Those having mild contusion may produce no symptoms at all. Severe cases will have signs of lung trauma and accompanying injuries.
- There will be low concentrations of oxygen in arterial blood gas and blue discoloration of the skin.
- The chest wall will be painful and tender.
- A significant presenting feature is painful and difficult breathing.
- Undue coughing and wheezing.
- Some may be present with a very rapid rate of breathing and a quick heart rate.
- On examination, breath sounds heard through a stethoscope may diminish, or there may be an abnormal crackling sound in the chest.
- The patient may cough up blood as well.
- The volume of blood pumped by the heart may decrease and the blood pressure drops.
Lung bruising and pulmonary contusion has a tendency to worsen over a period of few days; also, speedy deterioration or death can occur if untreated and neglected.
Treatment Options For Bruised Lung
The chief line of treatment and care regimen is supportive. The health care provider will understand the cause of the trauma / injuries and will provide the necessary supportive care whilst waiting for the contusion to heal. Monitoring is very crucial; the doctor will keep track of the fluid balance, the respiratory function, and the oxygen saturation.
- Furthermore, it is very vital to monitor for complications such as acute respiratory distress syndrome as well as pneumonia. The treatment regimen of bruised lung aims to prevent respiratory failure and to guarantee sufficient oxygenation. Supplemental oxygen may be given if the doctor deems necessary.
- Ventilation of the patient is a must. Mechanical ventilation is required in case of insufficient oxygen levels. Positive pressure ventilation is recommended when oxygenation is very severely impaired. Fluid therapy also needs to be started to manage the patient’s fluid electrolyte balance.
- If the case is not responding to other treatments, extra corporeal membranous oxygenation technique is made use of; wherein, the blood from the body is pumped in to a machine which oxygenates it and eliminates carbon dioxide before pumping it back into the body.
- Supportive care comprises of pain management and preventing and treating infections in the body.