Pulmonary laceration + contusion / barotrauma - severe car airbag injury

Case contributed by Dr Chris O'Donnell


Car hit a tree, airbags deployed. Severe shortness of breath with haemoptysis. Paramedics inserted a chest tube at scene as poor air entry on the left

Patient Data

Age: 25
Gender: Male

Marked asymetrical alveolar opacity (haemorrhage) in entire left lung with air cysts ie traumatic pneumatocoeles (arrows) as well as marked mediastinal emphysema and minor splenic laceration (arrow).  Note no rib fractures although there is a left clavicular fracture.

Case Discussion

These appearances are typical of barotrauma ie rapid deceleration force due to impact wth the deployed airbags.  They have worked to prevent fractures but as a result there is diffuse pulmonary haemorrhage and laceration leading to traumatic air cysts.
PlayAdd to Share

Case information

rID: 20692
Published: 7th Dec 2012
Last edited: 16th Jul 2018
System: Chest
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

Updating… Please wait.

Alert accept

Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.