Case report

Critical Ultrasound Journal

, 4:7

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Supporting the early use of echocardiography in blunt chest trauma

  • Scott B JenningsAffiliated withThe Canberra Hospital Email author 
  • , Jonathan RiceAffiliated withMoruya District Hospital


This case reports a very unusual mechanism of cardiac rupture following an episode of multiple blunt chest trauma. The patient, a professional jockey, was trampled by horses, and although shocked on hospital admission, he did not present with signs and symptoms that were consistent with cardiogenic shock. This case highlights the difficult and subjective nature of clinical examination in emergency situations when dealing with cases of acute cardiac tamponade. It further emphasises the lack of sensitivity of traditional trauma imaging and investigative approaches such as the standard anteroposterior chest X-ray and electrocardiogram. The diagnosis of acute cardiac tamponade was not made until tertiary-care-centre arrival, when ultrasound technology in the form of bedside echocardiography was used, facilitating emergency surgery to repair a ruptured left ventricle. It is hoped that the sharing of this case will alert fellow clinicians to this uncommon but possible mechanism of cardiac rupture and subsequent tamponade, encourage the early use of echocardiography at the bedside in hypotensive blunt chest trauma cases and reinforce the principles of the Advanced Trauma Life Support course in treating trauma victims.


Blunt chest trauma Echocardiography Ultrasound Cardiac tamponade Cardiogenic shock.