Introduction

Chest injuries are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality; they are directly responsible for 20 to 25 per cent of deaths due to trauma, and contribute to another 25 per cent of those deaths. Both blunt and penetrating traumas produce these injuries, but the general principles of management are similar regardless of the mechanism. However, the actual diagnostic and treatment modalities employed depend on the specific thoracic structures which have been damaged. The vast majority of patients with chest injuries can be treated non-operatively, with only 10 to 15 per cent requiring operative intervention ( McSwain 1992).

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