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Subacute Tension Hemopneumothorax with Novel Electrocardiogram Findings

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This case report describes a patient with a subacute right-sided tension hemopneumothorax following an occult stab. The patient’s electrocardiogram (ECG), performed as part of a standardized triage process, demonstrated significant abnormalities that misguided initial resuscitation, but resolved following evacuation of the tension hemopneumothorax. Tension pneumothorax is typically regarded as an immediately life-threatening condition that requires emergent management with needle or tube thoracostomy. However, we believe that subacute tension pneumothorax may be a rarely observed clinical phenomenon and may lead to unique ECG findings. We believe that the ECG changes we observed provided an early clue to the eventual diagnosis of a subacute tension pneumothorax and have not been previously described in this setting. . [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(1):86-89].

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