MVC with Tension Pneumothorax

A 44 year-old male arrives by EMS to a tertiary care ED where the trauma team has been activated. He was the driver in a single-vehicle MVC. He presents screaming and moaning with a GCS of 13. He has an obvious open fracture of his right forearm. He also has decreased air entry to the right side of his chest. The team will need to recognize the tension pneumothorax as part of their primary survey. They will then need to irrigate and splint the right arm after they have completed their secondary survey. As the secondary survey is being completed, the patient will become hypotensive again. This time, the team will find free fluid in the RUQ.

Obstetrical Trauma

A 33 year old G2P1 female at 32 weeks GA presents with blunt trauma following an MVC. She will be hypotensive due to both hypovolemic shock from a pelvic fracture and obstructive shock from a tension pneumothorax. Fetal monitoring will show the fetus in distress with tachycardia and late decelerations. Early airway intervention should be employed, with thoughtful selection of drugs for sedation and paralysis given the pregnancy. After intubation, the patient will remain hypotensive. She will require massive transfusion and coordination of care between orthopedics, general surgery, and obstetrics. The patient’s husband will also arrive after intubation and the team must give him the bad news.