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J Korean Soc Traumatol. 2006 Dec;19(2):201-205. Korean. Case Report.
Park MR , Lee JH , Ahn JY , Oh BJ , Kim W , Lim KS .
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center, Korea.

Tension viscerothorax (gastrothorax) is rare life-threatening disease which is caused by air trapped in viscera. A distended viscera in the hemi-thorax shifts the mediastinal structures and causes extra-cardiac obstructive shock. A defective diaphragm is caused by abdominal trauma or a congenital anomaly. Traumatic diaphragmatic injury can be missed until herniation develops several years after blunt trauma. In our case, a 10-year old boy developed hemodynamic compromise in the emergency department. Three years earlier, he had suffered blunt abdominal trauma during a pedestrian traffic accident, but there was no evidence of diaphragmatic injury at that time. He was successfully resuscitated by gastric decompression and an emergent thoracic operation. The operation finding revealed a traumatic diaphragmatic injury. Tension viscerothorax is a rare, but catastrophic, condition, so we suggest that addition of tension viscerothorax to the Advanced Trauma and Life Support (ATLS) guidelines may be helpful.

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