Pulmonary contusion: an update on recent advances in clinical management

World J Surg. 2010 Aug;34(8):1959-70. doi: 10.1007/s00268-010-0599-9.


Pulmonary contusion is a common finding after blunt chest trauma. The physiologic consequences of alveolar hemorrhage and pulmonary parenchymal destruction typically manifest themselves within hours of injury and usually resolve within approximately 7 days. Clinical symptoms, including respiratory distress with hypoxemia and hypercarbia, peak at about 72 h after injury. The timely diagnosis of pulmonary contusion requires a high degree of clinical suspicion when a patient presents with trauma caused by an appropriate mechanism of injury. The clinical diagnosis of acute parenchymal lung injury is usually confirmed by thoracic computed tomography, which is both highly sensitive in identifying pulmonary contusion and highly predictive of the need for subsequent mechanical ventilation. Management of pulmonary contusion is primarily supportive. Associated complications such as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and long-term pulmonary disability, however, are frequent sequelae of these injuries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Blast Injuries / complications
  • Blast Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Blast Injuries / physiopathology
  • Blast Injuries / surgery*
  • Contusions / complications
  • Contusions / diagnosis*
  • Contusions / physiopathology
  • Contusions / surgery*
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Lung Injury / complications
  • Lung Injury / diagnosis*
  • Lung Injury / physiopathology
  • Lung Injury / surgery*
  • ROC Curve
  • Resuscitation / methods
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnosis*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / physiopathology
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / surgery*