Flail chest

 

  •  A severe traumatic injury of the rib cage
  • integrity of the rib cage is compromised as multiple osseous fragments respond as an independent segment from the rest of the chest wall during inspiration and expiration.
  • The rib fragments are drawn inwards with each inspiration and pushed outwards with each expiration.
  • This compromises the ability to adequately fill the lungs with air and results in decrease perfusion.
  • Flail chest can be life threatening if sufficient damage to underlying lung tissue has occurred as a result of the traumatic injury to prevent adequate gas exchange.
  • Often it is the contusion sustained by lung tissue and not the osseous flail segment of the trauma that results in respiratory distress and death. 
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