Trachea Rupture in a Car Accident
I’m Ed Smith, a Car Accident Attorney in Sacramento. The trachea plays a vital role in the function of the body. It provides a patent airway through which oxygen can flow to the lungs. While the trachea is a flexible tube, it is prone to injury. If the trachea is torn, the results could be life-threatening.
What Does the Trachea Do?
The trachea is the firm, pliable tube that connects the mouth and throat to the lungs below. Interesting information about the trachea includes:
- Oxygen: The trachea transports oxygen from the mouth to the lungs. This oxygen then passes into the bloodstream.
- Cilia: The trachea and bronchi are lined with small hairs. These hairs help keep bacteria, viruses, and debris out of the lungs.
- Divisions: The trachea divides into two mainstem bronchi. One is on the right side, the other is on the left. These divisions then continue all the way into the chest. In the lungs, alveoli are present that transmit oxygen to the blood.
Watch YouTube Video ~ Structure and function of the trachea. Learn more about the trachea and its location in the body in the video below.
How does a Trachea Rupture in a Car Accident?
When someone gets behind the wheel of a car, many serious injuries could occur in a collision. A tear in the trachea represents a potentially catastrophic personal injury. Based on research:
Right Sided: One research study published in PubMed showed that close to half of all trachea ruptures occur in the right mainstem bronchus. About a third happen in the left bronchus. The remaining tears happen before the division.
Imaging: Studies have demonstrated that a chest CT is one of the most accurate ways to diagnose a tracheal tear.
Treatment of a Tracheal Tear
Recently, a case report was published that discussed a young man in a car crash. He was driving down the road when he swerved to avoid an object in the way. His car flipped and hit a pole, leading to a shattered windshield. Emergency personnel on the scene realized that he was having trouble breathing and provided supplemental oxygen. He was taken to a hospital for further evaluation.
At the hospital, the man received imaging that confirmed he had a tear of his trachea. Because of the damage, he was having trouble inhaling. This means that air isn’t reaching the lungs, depriving the body of oxygen. The man was taken to surgery immediately so that the tear in the trachea could be repaired and the leak stopped. After leaving the operating room, the man was intubated for a short time to ensure that the tear did not reopen. Once the tube was removed, he was able to breathe on his own without the trachea re-tearing.
The Potential Consequences of the Injury
Many complications can happen with this tear, including:
- Subcutaneous Emphysema: Even though the trachea is torn, the skin might not be torn. This means that air is leaving through the crack in the trachea and collecting between the tear and the surface.
- Collapsed Lung: Over time, air could spread from the tear of the trachea and collect in the chest on the outside of a lung. This air trapping can collapse a lung, making an already bad situation worse.
- Bleeding: A tear in the trachea could be accompanied by a rupture of the carotid artery or jugular vein. Severe blood loss can occur in a matter of minutes.
Families dealing with a tracheal tear likely have many questions. They could be wondering how they are going to pay for their loved one’s hospital stay. They might be unsure of whether or not insurance will pay for their injuries. Those who would like assistance with these concerns could find it helpful to speak with an attorney. A lawyer is trained to handle these issues and can guide a family during this stressful time.
Related Articles by Ed Smith
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Sacramento
I am pleased to be a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
Take a look at our verdicts or settlements here.
Image Attribution: The picture at the beginning of this article was located on Unsplash.
:dr cha [cs 770] cv