Let’s assume you are in an automobile accident and you forgot to wear your seat belt and your chest struck the steering wheel at impact. Or, your seat belt was used but the abrupt front-end collision resulted in pain across your chest from the seat belt engaging. Either way, you are taken to your local Emergency Department to be checked out. What important tests should be conducted in the Emergency Room?
You will probably first be examined by a nurse and, if needed, by a doctor. Hopefully the doctor will order a chest x-ray (CXR) because blunt trauma to the chest can result in a multitude of injuries to vital structures, including the heart, lungs, and esophagus. The brunt of the force occurs against the supporting structures including the chest wall, ribs, sternum, cervical and thoracic spine. CXRs can be helpful in diagnosing these and other injuries including pneumothorax (collapsed lung), diaphragmatic hernia, pulmonary contusions, sternal and rib fractures. These are all serious injuries which might not be apparent to you or the doctor without the advantages of an x-ray. Don’t believe this article then check out what the American College of Radiology has to say about chest x-rays.
If the doctor doesn’t offer a CXR – ask for it! It might save your life!