In a 2010 case report the authors looked at single case of an unrestrained driver involved in a frontal impact motor vehicle collision. In this case, “In the initial assessment in the emergency department, severe tenderness and ecchymosis over the sternum were present. As the lateral chest radiograph was insufficient, a transsternal ultrasonography was also performed, confirming the diagnosis of suspected nondisplaced sternal fracture” (Kapisiz et al., 2010, p. 181). The driver’s position, in this case, caused him to receive “the full force of the airbag deployment…and the lack of seatbelt protection moved him forward to the deploying airbag” (Kapisiz et al., 2010, p. 182). The force of the patient’s body moving forward from the crash against the force of the airbag coming back towards him, likely contributed to his injury. “Although airbags reduce the overall risk of injury and death from motor vehicle accidents, injuries attributed to airbag deployment have been extensively reported” (Kapisiz et al., 2010, p. 181). When eliciting the history of a traumatically injured patient, it is important to understand the mechanism of injury, the patient’s position in the vehicle and to be aware of all the forces involved in the crash that can contribute to the patient’s symptoms. It is also important to understand the diagnostic testing available to accurately diagnose the patient so the proper treatment plan can be established.
Kapisiz, N. S., Ozpolat, B., Kapisiz, F., & Yücel, E. (2010). Sternal fracture due to airbag injury: Case report. Turkish Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery, 16(2), 181-182.
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