Treatment of Thoracic Trauma: Lessons From the Battlefield Adapted to All Austere Environments

Wilderness Environ Med. 2017 Jun;28(2S):S69-S73. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2017.01.031.


Severe thoracic trauma in the backcountry can be a formidable injury pattern to successfully treat. Traumatic open, pneumo-, and hemothoraces represent some of the most significant patterns for which advanced equipment and procedures may help leverage morbidity and mortality, particularly when evacuation is delayed and environmental conditions are extreme. This paper reviews the development of successful techniques for treating combat casualties with thoracic trauma, including the use of vented chest seals and the technique of needle thoracentesis. Recommendations are then given for applying this knowledge and skill set in the backcountry.

Keywords: chest seals; chest trauma; combat trauma; needle thoracentesis; pneumothorax; prehospital.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Medicine / methods
  • Humans
  • Military Medicine / methods*
  • Thoracic Injuries / therapy*
  • Wilderness Medicine / methods*