Pneumothorax due to rib fractures

Case contributed by Dr Jens Christian Fischer

Presentation

55 year old woman toppled to the right side. She subsequently experienced thoracic tenderness and mild shortness of breath.

Patient Data

Age: 55
Gender: Female
X-ray

Fractures of the ribs 3-8 with obvious displacement of the 5th and 6th ribs. The thin pleural line and the lack of the pulmonary vessels in the right apex are clearly visible reflecting a pneumothorax. Subcutaneous emphysema of the thoracic wall.

X-ray

The zoomed view clearly demonstrates the thin pleural line and the lack of the pulmonary vessels in the right apex.

X-ray

After insertion of a thoracic drain, there is partial resolution of the pneumothorax. Additionally, there is a small pleural effusion and progressive emphysema of the thoracic wall.

Case Discussion

The first taken x-rays in the ED reveal multiple, partially displaced rib fractures and a pneumothorax on the right side.

After insertion of a thoracic drain, felt necessary due to the multiple fractures, progressive shortness of breath and the presence of pleural space air, the pneumothorax has partially resolved.

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Case information

rID: 12821
Published: 15th Jan 2011
Last edited: 7th Feb 2019
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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