Pulmonary Contusion and Traumatic Pneumatoceles in a Platform Diver with Hemoptysis

Published:September 28, 2016DOI:



      Injuries in divers resulting purely from impact with the water are uncommon in the published literature. We present a case report of pulmonary contusion in a young diver.

      Case Report

      A young, healthy competitive platform diver landed flat on his back in the water from a dive of 10 meters. He complained of upper back pain and had an episode of hemoptysis after the dive. He was initially observed for 15 hours postinjury, and was discharged when three chest radiographs (CXRs) taken at 1, 7, and 11 hours postinjury did not show significant abnormalities. Thirty-six hours postinjury, the patient experienced repeat hemoptysis and returned to the emergency department, where a fourth CXR performed 43 hours postinjury was normal. A computed tomography (CT) scan revealed pulmonary contusion and traumatic subpleural pneumatoceles. The patient was admitted to the cardiothoracic ward for observation. He recovered well with conservative treatment and was discharged on the fifth day after injury with clearance for air travel. In this patient with a high-energy mechanism of rapid deceleration and hemoptysis at the scene, there may be grounds for performing a CT scan of the thorax at the time of the first presentation, although the CT findings did not change conservative management of this patient.

      Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?

      Emergency physicians should recognize that a dive into water may generate sufficient impact to produce a pulmonary contusion. If the patient is clinically well and the CXR results are normal, the decision to initiate a CT scan and subsequent disposition may be based on clinical judgement and institutional practice.


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