A hematoma is a collection of blood outside the blood vessels. It can be external, under the skin, or inside the body. Hematomas are also known as bruises, and depending on where it is located, different hematomas can either be harmless or cause death.
To know more about the types of hematoma, causes, symptoms, and how to deal with it properly, continue reading below.
What is Hematoma?
Hematoma refers to any abnormal blood collection in a tissue or a cavity. It is produced when a blood artery ruptures at any level, and it can thus be found anywhere in the human body. It is most commonly associated with trauma.
The bleeding can sometimes be severe, depending on how much has leaked or is trapped under the skin. Hematomas are very easily treated, especially those located on or above the skin. However, if it is internal, it may cause serious complications or death when untreated.
Types of Hematoma
A hematoma is classified according to where it is located, and there are several types. They include:
- Subdural hematoma: Hematoma in the subdural space between the brain tissue and the brain lining
- Spinal epidural hematoma: a hematoma formed between the vertebrae and the spinal cord itself
- Epidural hematoma: A hematoma between the skull and the brain’s exterior lining
- Subungual hematoma: blood cloth underneath the nail
- Intra-abdominal, peritoneal, or retroperitoneal hematoma: a hematoma within the abdominal cavity
- Ear or aural hematoma: a blood clot in the cartilage of the ear
- Splenic hematoma: bleeding within the spleen
- Hepatic hematoma: a hematoma in the liver
- Septal hematoma: occurs after a blow to the nose and can puncture the septum
There are many different types of hematoma, and they come in many different sizes and locations. Hematomas can affect just about any part of your body, including the head, brain, eyes, and inner ear.
Symptoms of Hematoma
Hematomas can cause several symptoms that vary based on their location and whether nearby structures are affected by the inflammation and swelling associated with the bleeding. These symptoms include:
- back pain
- The inability to control the bladder or bowels (epidural hematoma)
- nail loss
- seizures (subdural hematoma)
- pain in the nail bed, and
- abdominal or flank pain (spleen, liver, or peritoneal hematoma)
Symptoms may not appear immediately, but they generally appear after a couple of days.
Causes of Hematoma
Trauma and injuries are the most common causes of hematoma. Injury to the blood vessel walls can result in bleeding. Hematomas are caused when blood begins to pool after escaping a blood vessel. There are several possible causes of hemorrhages, including:
- Medications that prevent blood clottings, such as warfarin (Coumadin) and heparin
- Intravenous catheter insertion or blood draw (venipuncture)
- Chronic diseases
- Blood clotting disorders, such as hemophilia and Von Willebrand’s disease (hereditary bleeding disorders)
- A shortage of platelets (platelets contribute to normal blood clotting)
- Trauma or injury
- Aneurysm (enlargement of a blood vessel in the brain)
- Orthopedic injuries (Fractures)
Treatment of Hematoma
It is possible to evaluate and treat most hematomas without requiring laboratory or radiologic tests. Health care professionals can often assess a patient without completing any further tests after taking a history and performing a physical examination.
It may not be necessary to treat a hematoma in all cases. The body usually reabsorbs blood from the hematoma over time. Using an ice pack wrapped in a towel will reduce the pain and swelling caused by a hematoma under the skin, nail, or other soft tissue.
A wrap or splint may prevent the blood vessel from reopening after healing a hematoma. If necessary, a doctor will instruct a patient on doing this.
In a painful injury, a doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers. Typically, physicians advise patients to avoid inevitable pain relievers, such as aspirin, since they thin the blood and exacerbate the hematoma.
Hematomas are sometimes surgically drainable. Surgery may be necessary in case of pressure on the spinal cord, brain, or other organs. Hematomas that are at risk of infection may also need to be drained.
When To See a Doctor
Hematoma, or lump on the skin caused by bleeding from an injured blood vessel, can be treated at home when it’s small and superficial.
You should see a physician if a hematoma is more significant than 3 centimeters, if the swelling lasts more than 48 hours, or if it has turned into a hard lump. Any patient with diabetes or a condition that affects blood circulation should seek medical attention immediately.
Hopefully, we have provided enough information to help you understand hematoma’s symptoms and causes to find the best treatment. There are many different types of hematomas, and they can appear randomly in individuals.
Do not panic if you experience a hematoma. Instead, seek medical help right away. Hematomas rarely cause lasting damage and are not cancerous.