Hemothorax: Definition, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:00 What Is a Hemothorax?
  • 0:48 Symptoms
  • 1:21 Treatment
  • 2:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

A hemothorax is a condition where blood pools in between the wall of the chest and the lung. In this lesson, you'll learn what causes a hemothorax, what the symptoms are, and what methods are used to treat the condition.

What Is a Hemothorax?

A hemothorax is a medical condition where blood pools in between the wall of the chest and the lung. This area is called the pleural space. Now that we know what it is, let's check out some of the causes.

The most common cause of a hemothorax is chest injury or trauma. It is a form of internal bleeding that can take place after an accident. Other causes include tuberculosis, improper blood clotting, a lung infection, a tear in a blood vessel, or a complication due to heart surgery. Rib injuries can puncture the lung or chest cavity, causing bleeding. A hemothorax can also develop spontaneously or because of an error in medical care. Complications from other diseases or surgeries may lead to a hemothorax.


So, how do you know if you have a hemothorax? There are several symptoms you can look for. The most common symptoms of a hemothorax can be confused with those caused by other conditions. They include generalized anxiety, low blood pressure, chest pain, and rapid heart rate or breathing. Cool skin, restlessness, or difficulty breathing can also be symptoms of a hemothorax. It usually takes an x-ray or computerized axial tomography (CT) scan to diagnose this type of bleeding, as there are few, if any, indicators that can be externally detected.

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