Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
In this Article
- Hematoma facts
- What is a hematoma?
- What causes a hematoma?
- What are the types of hematomas?
- What are the symptoms of a hematoma?
- When should I call the doctor about a hematoma?
- How is a hematoma diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a hematoma?
- What are the complications of a hematoma?
- Can hematomas be prevented?
What are the symptoms of a hematoma?
Hematomas cause irritation and inflammation. Symptoms depend upon their location and whether the size of the hematoma or the associated swelling and inflammation causes structures nearby to be affected. The common symptoms of inflammation include redness, pain, and swelling.
In general, superficial hematomas of skin, soft tissue, and muscle tend to resolve over time. The initial firm texture of the blood clot gradually becomes more spongy and soft as the clot is broken down by the body and the shape changes as the fluid drains away and the hematoma flattens. The color changes from that of a purplish-blue bruise to yellows and browns as the blood chemicals gradually are metabolized and the hematoma resolves. Depending upon its location, the discolorations may travel through different tissue planes by gravity. For example, a forehead hematoma may cause bruising beneath the eyes and seem to travel to the neck as it resolves over time.
Intracranial, epidural, subdural, and intracerebral hematomas often need neurosurgical intervention to stabilize the injury.
When should I call my doctor about a hematoma?
Most hematomas have little consequence. They are due to minor trauma where the patient was aware of the injury, knows what part of the body was injured, and can expect to recover with few problems. Bumps and bruises are part of every child's growth.
Some hematomas may be more important because of their location and it is usually the nearby affected structures that cause symptoms. For example, medical care would be sought for a head injury victim for significant headache, vomiting , or difficulty being aroused. Intracranial (intra= within + cranium=skull) hematomas need to cause pressure on the brain before symptoms manifest themselves, thus any significant head injury should be evaluated by a health care practitioner.
Patients taking blood thinners are at higher risk for bleeding from minor injuries. It is often wise for these people to seek medical attention if they are involved in even minor accidents or sustain minor injuries.
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