Organ Damage from Sternal Trauma
I’m Ed Smith, a Car Accident Attorney in Sacramento. The body requires many different vital organs to maintain its various processes and these organs are subject to damage with various types of trauma. The organs in the chest are protected by the rib cage; however, the sternum can be damaged by significant forces suffered in a car accident. This can lead to organ trauma which was recently reviewed in a medical research article.
Mechanism of Sternal Trauma: Common Causes
The sternum is a large, thick, bony structure that requires major force to fracture. One of the most common causes of sternal trauma is open heart surgery, where the sternum has to be cracked to reveal the heart for surgeries. Another common mechanism of sternal trauma is a kick to the chest by a large animal, such as a horse. Other mechanisms include:
Auto Accidents: According to the medical literature, an auto accident is one of the most common causes of sternal trauma. If someone is involved in a car accident, their chest can impact the steering wheel or dashboard of the car. If this happens at high speeds, rib fractures and sternal trauma can result, leading to damage to the organs underneath.
Bicycle Accidents: When someone crashes their bike, they could flip over the handlebars. If these handlebars impact their chest, this can lead to sternal trauma. A similar mechanism can be ascribed to motorcycle accidents. When people land on the pavement on the other side of their bike, further trauma can result.
Sports: When someone is playing contact sports, it is important to wear the proper type of protection and safety gear. Sports such as football can expose someone to sternal trauma that could lead to significant organ damage underneath.
If someone sustains sternal trauma, this doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is going to wind up with damage to the heart, lungs, or other organs. There are a few signs and symptoms that people should watch out for.
Organ Damage: Signs and Symptoms
The sternum provides protection to a handful of different organs including the heart, lungs, and esophagus. If someone sustains damage to these organs, there are several common symptoms to be aware of. One of the most common symptoms is chest pain. People may also notice bruising, bleeding, or other rashes that could develop on the chest as a response to trauma. If the lungs have sustained damage, people could have trouble breathing. This pain could get worse with inhale and people may feel an inability to catch their breath, called air hunger. Damage to the heart could lead to people feeling sweaty, cold, and clammy. Depending on the severity of the heart contusion, people could notice that their extremities could start to feel cold. They could also notice an absence of pulses. Difficulty breathing is a sign of an emergency that needs immediate medical attention. Depending on the severity of the injuries, various treatment options should be considered.
Treatment Considerations and Prognosis
Depending on how bad the injuries are, the treatment options could differ. Anyone who has difficulty breathing could require intubation to keep their oxygen levels up. If there is suspicion of a collapsed lung, called a pneumothorax, someone could require emergent needle decompression. Emergent cardiac events could require a trip to the catheterization lab or another cardiac procedure to relieve any damage to the heart. Families with questions or concerns about their medical problems should reach out to an experienced legal team to learn more. There are numerous sources of stress, particularly if someone requires surgery, and an experienced attorney could help to remove this stress from the shoulders of a family dealing with medical complications. Don’t feel nervous about asking for help because someone is always willing to lend a hand.
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Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a Car Accident Attorney in Sacramento. The sternum provides strong protection to numerous vital organs; however, even the sternum can be broken by significant forces, leading to organ damage. Those with legal questions can contact my office using (916) 921-6400 for friendly, free advice or by reaching out on our toll-free line: (800) 404-5400.
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Image Source: The image at the top was found first on Unsplash and has been shown here with permission
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