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Home>Topics>>EMS: Sucking Chest Wound

EMS: Sucking Chest Wound

Tue, 15 May 2012|

Mike McEvoy demonstrates new methods for dealing with a patient who has a sucking chest wound.



[MUSIC] [SOUND] Hi, welcome to Training Minutes. Today, I'm gonna talk about managing a patient with a sucking chest would. So here, on this patient's anterior chest, we have a wound, that's about the size of a nickel. Which in actuality, in order to cause collapse of a lung, and a tension pneumothorax, which is what's involved in a sucking chest wound. You need a hole that's at least a nickel sized hole. Holes that are smaller than that are not gonna have the effect of collapsing the lung and causing a major hemodynamic compromise to a patient. Holes that are bigger than that are much more difficult thing to manage. If this patient were shot, we'd be concerned about an exit wound. From our previous minutes we had talked about a way that you could potentially seal a wound like this using an ECG electrode. And while this a reasonable approach as a way of covering up a wound like that. Most of the sucking chest wounds that we actually see. Are gonna be much larger than that, and a small ECG electrode is not gonna do the trick. We've learned in the past that a piece of petroleum gauze would actually be useful to seal a wound like that. The thought process being that we'd open the petroleum gauze, take this gauze itself. Which is occlusive, by nature of the fact that it's coated with petroleum, put that onto the wound, and then cover the wound with a dressing. The dressing, then, would, in the past, have been sealed on three sides. So that we could actually allow air to escape from the collapsed lung and reinflate the lung once we had an occlusive dressing on the lung, or on the hole. So, currently, the thought process has changed from covering the wound on three sides, to completely covering the wound. And, in fact, when you look at the most recent trauma literature, this process of attempting to put together. A, occlusive dressing, using some petroleum gauze. Takes too long, and it's too complicated to do. The military has for years, has used a device, called an Asherman seal. The Asherman seal, very similar to what we had just seen, uses. A sterile gauze pad placed over the wound itself. And then the Asherman word seal is a completely surrounding occlusive dressing which is stuck onto the skin over the wound. And then allows the wound to breathe through the small latex piece of. Attachment to the dressing itself. The Asherman seal is a difficult dressing to use in actual practice because it sweats off of most patients who have wounds of this size, or the leakage from the wound. The bleeding would actually cause the dressing to. Come off the patient. Asherman seals are also very expensive and because you'd go through many of them to try to treat a patient with a wound like this, we tend no longer to use an Asherman seal. So the new thought process for sealing a wound of this nature. Is to use an expired AED electrode and now we finally have a use for these electrodes that you've been throwing out for years. We take the AED electrode, place the electrode over the wound [SOUND] Get rid of the wire going to the patient. Notice my pink scissors that you can buy so that people don't steal them from the ambulance. No one wants a pair of pink scissors. And now we have completely occluded the wound itself. If, in fact, the patient starts to have compromise from the lung collapsing underneath the sucking chest wound itself, what we would do is lift the dressing at one of the corners and ask the patient to cough or wait until he took a deep breath, and that would re-expand the lung underneath. For the present time, though, we'll leave the dressing on the wound. Sealing all four sides of it, which is the current thinking in advanced trauma life support, pre-hospital trauma life support, and all of the trauma literature. Take some sort of a writing implement and note on the AED pad that you are covering a wound with it. Thanks for watching training minutes. I'm Mike McEvoy, EMS editor. Here, a fire engineer. [MUSIC]

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