What is hematoma?

A hematoma is a pocket of blood inside the body caused by bleeding. It forms when a blood vessel is ruptured or leaks blood into the surrounding tissue or body cavity. A bruise is a confined, mild type of hematoma. You can also have bleeding inside your skull, which, depending upon its precise location, may be referred to as a subarachnoid, subdural, epidural or intraparenchymal hematoma.

Hematomas can be caused by a wide variety of conditions. Any physical harm to your body can easily cause bruises of varying size, and head trauma can cause a hematoma in the skull. Certain conditions, diseases or disorders can cause a hematoma to form after only minor harm. For example, clotting disorders, such as hemophilia or Von Willebrand’s disease (hereditary bleeding disorder), cause easy bleeding.

Aside from the blood loss, a hematoma can cause problems for neighboring or distant structures. An expanding hematoma can act like a tourniquet and interrupt the blood flow in nearby arteries and veins. In similar fashion, adjoining organs can be displaced or jeopardized by the fluid pressure caused by a hematoma. In the pelvis and extremities, a hematoma often forms following a bone fracture and may allow a significant portion of the body’s blood to pool without being detected.

Treatment of a hematoma depends on its size, severity and location. Small, mild hematomas may not need treatment, though ice, rest, compression and elevation may help reduce associated symptoms and speed recovery. Larger hematomas, or hematomas in or around other organs, can be treated in a variety of ways. Skull hematomas may require removing of a portion of the skull temporarily or drilling a hole into the skull to reduce pressure on the brain.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you suspect a hematoma due to head injury, especially if you are vomiting or experience confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment.

Seek prompt medical care for a hematoma that is rapidly expanding or if you have experienced significant trauma, have a known coagulation (clotting) disorder, or are on anticoagulation (anticlotting) medications.


What other symptoms might occur with hematoma?

A hematoma may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Common symptoms that may occur along with hematoma

A hematoma may accompany other symptoms including:


What causes hematoma?

When a blood vessel is broken or injured, blood can leak into the surrounding tissue where it collects and forms a hematoma. The most common cause of a hematoma is trauma or injury. A minor injury that affects small blood vessels, like capillaries in the skin, can result in a bruise. Injury to larger vessels can cause much larger hematomas, and injuries to the head can cause a hematoma to form ... Read more about hematomacauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves