You could sustain chest trauma from many different types of incidents, such as an auto collision, slip and fall or assault against you by another person. Depending on factors such as the force and direction of impact, injuries resulting from a chest trauma can be serious and possibly life-threatening.
The University of Michigan Health System describes several types of chest injuries that can be severe. These include rib fractures and damage to the internal organs contained in the thoracic cavity.
The ribcage surrounds the organs of the thoracic cavity, including the lungs and heart. It provides protection to the soft tissues within but is susceptible to fractures if struck with sufficient force. Though painful, a rib fracture may not be very serious if the bone cracks in only one place. However, if there is displacement of the bone fragment from its anatomic position, it can cause damage to organs.
Another dangerous type of rib fracture is flail chest. This occurs when the bone breaks in more than one place at once. As a result, a floating fragment of rib remains connected only by the soft tissue surrounding it, such as muscles or tendons. This can also put internal organs at risk.
A fractured rib is a possible indirect cause of damage to internal organs due to chest trauma. A direct trauma can cause primary damage to internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, heart and blood vessels. Damage to these tissues can cause internal bleeding leading to shock or other symptoms such as shortness of breath. When trauma is the primary cause of the damage, such symptoms may develop almost immediately after the impact.