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Pneumothorax/ Hemothorax

aBoUT THe LUngs

The lungs are two organs that lie under the ribs within the chest. They are made up of many tiny air-filled sacs called alveoli. The primary function of the lungs is the get inhaled oxygen into and carbon dioxide out of the blood. This oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange occurs in the alveoli.

PreCaUTions as YoU HeaL

To help with recovery, it is important to follow all instructions provided by your trauma team. · Take your incentive spirometer home and complete the breathing exercises ("incentive spirometry") shown to you in the hospital. These must be done at least four times a day along with coughing and deep breathing. This will help your lung to heal and prevent you from getting pneumonia. It may be helpful to hold a pillow over your chest when coughing, taking deep breaths, and doing your incentive spirometry. This will help to decrease the pain and allow you to fully expand your lungs. · Take prescribed pain medications as ordered. Do not take more than recommended or prescribed. Try to take pain medications with food to prevent upset stomach. · Try to slowly increase your daily activity as tolerated until you are back to your normal routine. · Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water to prevent constipation that you may get while taking pain medications.

UnDersTanDing CHesT injUries

Ribs help protect your lungs when they expand and contract during breathing. A pneumothorax or hemothorax is a condition that can occur after an injury to the chest such as: a blow to the chest, stab wound, or gunshot wound. A pneumothorax is air that is trapped between the chest wall and the lung. A hemothorax is blood that is trapped between the chest wall and the lung. Trapped air or blood can cause the lung to "collapse." The lung does not work correctly when it is collapsed.

Diagnosis & TreaTmenT

Your trauma team will discuss with you the appropriate diagnostic procedures and treatment options recommended for your injury. Some common treatments: · Mild chest injuries can often resolve on their own. A pneumothorax/hemothorax can be small and may not need to be drained. · A large pneumothorax/hemothorax requires a tube to be inserted inside the chest to remove the air or blood so that the lung can re-inflate and work properly. It may take six to eight weeks to heal and feel back to normal.

Continued on back

Call your physician or go the nearest er immediately if you experience any of the following:

· Increased chest pain. · Shortness of breath or air hunger. · Fever 101oF or greater. · Weakness, dizziness, or fainting. · Coughing up blood. If you had a chest tube placed for this injury, please keep the dressing on the incision site for 48 hours. If the dressing becomes loose in the first 48 hours please secure it with tape so the dressing makes a good seal. After 48 hours the site may be cleaned and covered with a band aid. · Please contact your doctor if you notice swelling, pain, and /or yellow or bloody drainage from the chest tube area. · Do not sit in a bath tub, hot tub, or swimming pool until the chest tube incision site is completely healed. · To prevent your pneumothorax from returning do not fly in an airplane or helicopter or scuba dive until your doctor tells you that you it is safe.


Please see your discharge instructions for additional information about your care. · It is important to keep your appointments for lab work, x-rays, and to see your doctor for follow up as recommended. · Should you need lab work or x-rays, they should be done before your follow up appointments with your doctor. · Your discharge instructions tell you how to schedule these exams. Your doctor will tell you when your chest injury is healed enough to return to your normal activities.

Poudre Valley Health System does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, or sexual orientation in admission, treatment or participation in its programs, services and activities, or in employment. For further information about this policy, contact the Medical Center of the Rockies' patient representative at (970) 624-1853.


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