What is the chest?
The chest is the part of your body between your neck and your abdomen (belly). The medical term for your chest is thorax.
Your chest holds many important structures for breathing, digestion, blood circulation, and other important body functions. These structures include your:
- Ribs and breastbone
- Esophagus, the tube between your mouth and stomach
- Trachea, your windpipe
- Bronchi, the tubes that carry air from your windpipe to your lungs
- Pleura, a thin layer of tissue that covers the lungs and lines the inside wall of the chest space
- Heart and large blood vessels
- Thymus, a gland that’s part of your immune system
What are chest injuries and disorders?
Chest injuries and disorders are problems that affect any of the organs or structures located in your chest.
There are many types of chest injuries and disorders, for example:
- Broken ribs
- Esophagus disorders
- Swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia
- Tracheal disorders
- Bronchial disorders
- Lung diseases and collapsed lung
- Pleural disorders
- Heart diseases
- Mediastinal diseases, which are tumors, inflammation, and other problems with the structures in the mediastinum, which is the space between your lungs, breastbone, and spine
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
Chest injuries may happen from the force of car accidents, falls, or sports injuries. Or the chest may be pierced by a bullet or sharp object. Because your chest holds so many important structures, certain chest injuries may be life-threatening.
How are chest injuries and disorders diagnosed?
Diagnosis of chest injuries or disorders depends on the type of symptoms you’re having and whether you’ve had a chest injury. Injuries are usually obvious, but in most cases, you’ll need tests to know how serious an injury is.
There are many types of tests for diagnosing different types of chest injuries and disorders, for example:
- Diagnostic imaging tests
- Heart tests
- Lung function tests
- Pleural fluid analysis
- Dysphagia tests
Treatments will depend on the type of chest injury or disorder you have.