Flail Chest

Receiving a dire medical diagnosis is worrisome and can leave the patient and loved ones feeling helpless. The pronouncement can be even more frightening when the condition is uncommon. To navigate the bewilderment, there is research on unfamiliar terms and the effect the ailment will have on the patient. Such can be the case with flail chest.

What is flail chest?

Flail chest is a serious condition that happens to people who’ve suffered from blunt trauma (heavy fall, catastrophic car accident, a victim of violence). When three or more ribs are fractured in several different places, the chest wall over the broken ribs can become misaligned with the rest of the chest.

It’s an extremely dangerous condition since it leaves the lungs with less space to expand as the person breathes. It’s a life-threatening condition that must be treated immediately.

What causes flail chest?

The most common cause of flail chest is severe trauma. The most likely culprits are motor vehicle accidents. In rare instances, it can result from bone disease or a genetic disorder.

Flail Chest Signs and Symptoms

If a person has experienced severe trauma and has any of the signs or symptoms below, it may be an indication of flail chest:

  • Intense chest pains
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Significant bruising
  • Tenderness
  • One side of the chest expands more than the other when the patient breathes

Flail Chest Diagnosis

The most common way of diagnosing flail chest in a patient who’s suffered from trauma is a visual examination of the chest and a close evaluation of the patient’s breathing patterns. If the doctor suspects flail chest, they will order X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.

Flail Chest Treatment

Treatment for flail chest includes oxygen via mask or a ventilator to ensure adequate breathing. The medical provider will usually prescribe pain medications and in severe cases, may recommend surgery.

Flail Chest Recovery Time

Recovery depends on the patient’s age, the extent of the injuries, and overall health. Older patients are more likely to suffer from complications, such as pneumonia, deformity, chronic chest pain, or respiratory failure.

Flail Chest Prevention

Flail chest cannot be prevented since accidents are typically unavoidable. Even wearing a seat belt, you could suffer from flail chest after a crash if the impact was significant enough.

Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today

At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’ve been diagnosed with flail chest, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.

Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.