People may feel light-headed and short of breath and have chest pain, and the skin may be cool, sweaty, or bluish.
Doctors do a chest x-ray to make the diagnosis.
People are given fluids intravenously or a blood transfusion Overview of Blood Transfusion A blood transfusion is the transfer of blood or a blood component from one healthy person (a donor) to a sick person (a recipient). Transfusions are given to increase the blood's ability... read more , and a tube is inserted in the chest to drain the blood.
(See also Introduction to Chest Injuries Introduction to Chest Injuries Chest injuries most often affect the ribs, upper part of the abdomen, lungs, blood vessels, heart, muscles, soft tissues, and breastbone. Sometimes the esophagus, collarbone, or shoulder blade... read more .)
Hemothorax can result from any injury—blunt or penetrating―that cuts or tears a lung or an artery or vein in the chest. Blood may then accumulate in the pleural space―between the two layers of tissue that cover the lungs. A large amount of blood may press on the lungs and make breathing difficult. When air as well as blood enters this space, the disorder is called hemopneumothorax. Occasionally, hemothorax is caused by chest surgery or another disorder, such as tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) Tuberculosis is a chronic contagious infection caused by the airborne bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It usually affects the lungs. Tuberculosis is spread mainly when people breathe... read more or lung cancer Lung Cancer Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. About 85% of cases are related to cigarette smoking. One common symptom is a persistent cough or a change in the character... read more .
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Symptoms of Hemothorax
Hemothorax is not painful, but the injury that caused it usually is. The severity of other symptoms depends in part on the amount of blood in the chest cavity. If the amount of blood is small, people usually have no other symptoms. People with a large amount of blood may feel short of breath, and breathing may be shallow and rapid. A massive amount of blood may cause blood pressure to become dangerously low (shock Shock Shock is a life-threatening condition in which blood flow to the organs is low, decreasing delivery of oxygen and thus causing organ damage and sometimes death. Blood pressure is usually low... read more ). The skin may be cool, sweaty, and bluish.
Diagnosis of Hemothorax
If doctors suspect hemothorax, they take a chest x-ray X-Rays of the Chest Anyone thought to have a heart disorder has chest x-rays taken from the front and the side. Typically, the person is standing upright, but chest x-rays can be done with people lying in bed if... read more or, particularly if rapid diagnosis is necessary, do a bedside ultrasound procedure called E-FAST (Extended Focused Assessment With Sonography in Trauma) to detect blood in the pleural space between the lung and the chest wall.
Treatment of Hemothorax
Intravenous fluid and sometimes blood products to maintain blood pressure
Chest tube insertion
Doctors give fluids intravenously to increase the amount of fluid in the bloodstream and thus increase blood pressure. If a large amount of blood has been lost, a blood transfusion Overview of Blood Transfusion A blood transfusion is the transfer of blood or a blood component from one healthy person (a donor) to a sick person (a recipient). Transfusions are given to increase the blood's ability... read more is necessary.
Doctors usually insert a chest tube Chest Tube Insertion Chest tube insertion (also called tube thoracostomy) is a procedure in which a tube is inserted into the space between the lung and chest wall (called the pleural space). The procedure is done... read more (thoracostomy) into the chest to remove the blood and to allow the lung to reinflate. The tube may need to remain in place for several days.
If a lot of blood is present or if bleeding continues, surgery (thoracotomy Thoracotomy Thoracotomy is an operation in which the chest wall is opened to view the internal chest organs, to obtain samples of tissue for laboratory examination, and to treat disorders of the lungs,... read more ) may be done to stop the bleeding.