I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento catastrophic injury attorney. Tracheobronchial injury is perhaps one of the most frightening injuries a person can suffer. The injury is usually very severe and almost always deadly. Those who do survive it often face a long, hard uphill battle to recovery.
What is a Tracheobronchial Injury?
Tracheobronchial injuries, sometimes known as tracheobronchial disruptions, are usually the result of severe blunt force or penetrating trauma to the chest. This often occurs during high-speed automobile accidents, but can also be the result of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle or a rider thrown from a motorcycle or bike.
Tracheobronchial injuries are more common in the neck, where the trachea does not have the advantage of protection from the bony thorax. Given the severe blunt force needed to create such an injury, the issue is often complicated by injuries to other areas of the body, such as the chest wall, lungs, esophagus and vital organs.
What are the Signs of a Tracheobronchial Injury?
Immediately following the trauma, an individual might suffer from severe chest pain, shortness of breath and coughing up blood – assuming that they are able to draw breath through the damaged trachea. Collapsed lungs are common. Severe subcutaneous emphysema, or the presence of air under the skin, is often seen in the neck area. Many individuals are unable to speak following the injury, thanks to the significant damage to the larynx. Those who have suffered severe trauma and a complete collapse of the tracheobronchial area might not be able to breathe at all.
Recovery from a Tracheobronchial Injury
Unfortunately, 78% of those who suffer this injury will die from airway obstruction, exsanguination or severe organ damage before emergency crews reach them. For those few who do make it to the hospital, 21% will die within two hours of arrival. Those who survive long enough to receive treatment likely have only a partial collapse of the tracheobronchial tree, which allows them to get enough oxygen to survive the transport.
Those who suffer from this injury will almost certainly face surgical intervention, followed by a long and trying stay in the intensive care unit.
Recovery from a tracheobronchial injury usually takes a great deal of time. In addition to recovering from the surgery itself, individuals with extensive trauma might not be able to breathe or swallow on their own, and might face further surgeries to regain some of their normal function. Still others might not be able to speak, thanks to damage to the larynx, vocal cords and tissues of the throat. Though extensive therapy might help those who are rendered mute as a result of the accident, there is no guarantee that they will regain vocal abilities.
Prevention of tracheobronchial injuries
Though high-speed crashes often come out of the blue and leave little time to react before impact, drivers and passengers can lessen their chances of a severe tracheobronchial injury by wearing their seat belt. Proper positioning of the seat belt across the chest and hips provides the best protection during a high-speed crash. Airbags can also be helpful in preventing the trauma of a tracheobronchial injury.
Sacramento Catastrophic Injury Attorney
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento catastrophic injury attorney. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, please call me at (916) 921-6400 for free and friendly advice. I may also may be reached at (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice.
I am a proud Million Dollar Advocates Forum Member.
Our injury attorneys have an extensive background of success. Browse our Previous Verdicts and Settlements here.
Founder of AutoAccident.com, the most informational personal injury webpage in Northern California.