Pulmonary Contusion

A pulmonary contusion is caused by a very strong blunt force driving into the chest, causing disruption of the lung and pulmonary tissues (bruised lung).  Unlike a pulmonary laceration, a contusion does not involve a tear of the lung.

How Do You Prevent a Pulmonary Contusion?

Wearing rib pads in contact sport can help prevent this condition.  Also, having the athlete train and improve their balance, proprioception, coordination, muscular control, and motor skills can help prevent future collisions.

Look for These Symptoms in Athletes When a Pulmonary Contusion is Suspected:

  • Dyspnea (troubled or painful breathing)

  • Hypoxemia (deficiency of oxygen in the blood – due to obstructed or malfunctioning lungs)

  • Hemoptysis (blood in lungs/expectoration (coughing up) of blood)

  • Tachypnea (Rapid, shallow breathing)

  • Chest Pain (angina)

  • Wheezing

  • Cyanosis (Blueish coloring of skin)

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)

What Else Could This Be?

  • Pulmonary laceration
  • Pneumothorax
  • Asthma Attack
  • Rib Fracture

How Do You Treat an Individual With a Pulmonary Contusion?

  • Check Vitals (Blood Pressure, Pulse, Respiratory Rate, Airway, Breathing)
  • Activate EMS (Emergency Medical Service 9-1-1)
  • When in the hospital procedures may include:
    •  X-Ray

    • CT Scan

    • Ultrasound

    • Aspiration (draining of blood or swelling)

When Can the Individual Return to Activity?

If there is no chest fracture, return to play typically takes 1-2 weeks following physician clearance.  This time allows for soft tissue healing and regaining full pulmonary function