What Is a Hematoma and What Causes It?

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If you are involved in an accident in Nebraska, you may be diagnosed with an injury known as a hematoma. This type of injury forms when a blood vessel leaks or is ruptured. Depending on the location and severity of your hematoma, it could be dangerous and have wide-ranging health complications.


What Is a Hematoma?

A hematoma is a collection or pocket of blood that has leaked from a damaged blood vessel. Essentially, it is a serious type of bruise. A standard bruise is a mild and confined type of hematoma. A hematoma is not a blood clot, nor will it cause a blood clot. It is blood that has leaked or burst from a damaged blood vessel. When something ruptures a blood vessel or makes it leak blood (hemorrhage) into the surrounding tissues or body cavity, it forms a hematoma. 

There are different types of hematomas based on where they occur. A subcutaneous hematoma occurs beneath the skin, while an intramuscular hematoma occurs within the muscles or other soft tissues. A hematoma inside the nose is a septal hematoma, and inside the ear is an auricular hematoma. A patient can also experience a hematoma inside of the skull from bleeding in the brain. These hematomas are epidural, subdural, subarachnoid or intracerebral.

Common Causes of Hematomas

Trauma is the number one cause of hematomas. Trauma from an external force can injure the blood vessels enough to cause them to rupture or leak blood into the surrounding area. Trauma or an injury that affects the small blood vessels can cause a simple bruise. Damage to larger vessels, however, can cause more severe hemorrhaging and larger hematomas. Some of the most common causes of hematomas are:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • Bumps or blows to the head
  • An explosion or blast
  • Gunshot wounds or stabbings
  • Bone fractures or orthopedic injuries

Medications can also cause hematomas, such as blood thinners. If you are involved in a traumatic accident and have reason to suspect a hematoma, see a doctor for an official diagnosis and treatment plan. Although a minor hematoma will go away on its own without special medical treatment, a severe hematoma may require medications or even surgery.

How to Tell if You Have a Hematoma

When blood collects and pools beneath the skin, it can cause visible symptoms, such as a reddish or purplish discoloration of the skin, or skin that changes from red to blue to green to yellow over time, similar to a typical bruise. A hematoma can also cause swelling, pain, redness and warmth around the affected area. If the hematoma occurs as part of a head injury, symptoms may also include confusion, headache, weakness, vomiting, trouble breathing, lethargy and sudden changes in mood.

Is a Hematoma Serious?

This answer depends on the location of the hematoma and potential related complications. If the hematoma is part of a brain injury, it is serious and requires emergency medical care. If you notice any of the above-listed symptoms of a head injury alongside a hematoma, go to a hospital in Omaha without delay. Other signs that a hematoma may be a symptom of a life-threatening injury include:

  • Abnormal pupil size
  • Neck or back pain
  • A rapidly progressing hematoma
  • Severe bleeding from the face or head
  • Seizures 
  • Loss of consciousness

A hematoma could also be serious if it occurs in a confined space, such as the lining that covers the outside of the heart (the pericardium). A hematoma that expands within an enclosed space can place pressure on the surrounding arteries and veins, interrupting the blood flow and causing serious complications such as organ damage. It is important to see a doctor if you believe you have a hematoma.

If you have a hematoma due to someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, contact a personal injury lawyer in Omaha to discuss your ability to file a claim.