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Case Reports in Radiology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 162064, 5 pages
Case Report

Haemothorax and Thoracic Spine Fractures in the Elderly

1Indiana University School of Medicine, South Bend Campus, South Bend, IN 46556, USA
2Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA 15212, USA
3Department of Emergency Medicine, Memorial Hospital of South Bend, South Bend, IN 46601, USA
4Memorial Hospital of South Bend, South Bend, IN 46601, USA
5South Bend Medical Foundation, South Bend, IN 46601, USA

Received 19 June 2012; Accepted 12 July 2012

Academic Editors: K. N. Fountas, A. Hiwatashi, A. Komemushi, and L. Lampmann

Copyright © 2012 Michael A. Masteller et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Both osteoporotic fractures and pleural effusions are frequently observed in medicine. However, rarely does one associate a hemorrhagic pleural effusion with a thoracic spinal fracture when the patient has not sustained massive trauma. In this paper, we discuss two cases where seemingly insignificant low-energy trauma precipitated massive haemothoraces in elderly patients with underlying osteoporosis, ultimately resulting in their immediate causes of death. This paper serves to remind health care professionals of the importance of using caution when moving elderly patients as well as to consider thoracic spinal fracture as a potential explanation for a hemorrhagic pleural effusion of undetermined etiology.