Chest Wounds

Does a puncture to the lungs require special treatment? I have heard that a puncture to a lung may have been fatal, over a hundred years ago. Is this also why the lungs are located in the rib cage?

Sometimes…When a hole is made in the lung air can collect between the lung and the chest wall (rib cage) if the air can not escape, like through a hole in the chest wall, the lung will eventually collapse (a pneumothorax). Some people can tolerate a collapsed lung for a while, but a condition can arise in which so much air accumulates outside the lung that it causes the heart to be pushed to the opposite side which can actually kink off the major vessels causing death (tension pneumothorax). The usual treatment is to insert a chest tube which allows the air to escape without accumulating. The hole in the lung usually heals over but often requires surgical correction.

This is what we were taught to do in the Navy for punctured lungs and sucking chest wounds:

1: Use something that will make a good seal (like an ID card or other thin plastic item) to apply direct pressure to the wound. This will plug the hole and stop external bleeding.

2: Wrap the injured area with something absorbant…but don’t wrap it too tightly.

3: Lie the victim on the injured side…yes, this sounds painful, but it is done to keep the uninjured lung as unrestricted as possible.

4: Treat the victim for shock.

5: Get the victim to a medical facility ASAP!

It should be noted that this procedure is intended for battle conditions, and should not be practiced in your own home.