Trauma of lung due to impact load

R. T. Yen*, Y. C. Fung, S. Q. Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


A quantitative evaluation of lung injury due to impact loading is of general interest. Hemorrhage and edema are the usual sequelae to traumatic pulmonary impact. To gain some quantitative understanding of the phenomena, we perfused excised rabbit lung with Macrodex at isogravimetric condition and monitored lung weight continuously after impact. It is shown that a factor of importance is the rigidity of the surface on which the lung rests. The rate of lung weight increase is smaller if the lung was 'freely' supported on a soft cloth, more if it was supported on a rigid plate. This suggests the influence of stress wave reflection. The critical condition correlates with the initial velocity of impact at the surface of the lung, or with the maximum deflection. For a freely supported lung, the rate of lung weight increase was 22% of the initial total lung weight per h after impact when the impact velocity was 11.5 m s-1, 30% when the velocity was 13.2 m s-1, several 100% at 13.5 m s-1, signaling massive lung injury. Since the velocity of sound in rabbit lung is 33.3 m s-1 when the inflation (transpulmonary) pressure is 10 cm H2O, the critical velocity of 13.5 m s-1 corresponds to a Mach number of 0.4. The maximum surface displacement of the lung is almost linearly proportional to the initial velocity of impact. The exact cause of edema and hemorrhage is unknown; we hypothesize that it is due to tensile stress in the alveolar wall caused by the impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-749,751-753
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation

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