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 inside the skull, which can compress the brain.
Hematomas may also form if your blood cannot clot properly because of a coagulation disorder, anticoagulant medications, or chronic disease.
Common causes of hematoma
Hematoma may be caused by a variety of conditions including:
- Anticoagulation medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin) or heparin
- Chronic diseases
- Coagulation disorders, such as hemophilia or Von Willebrand’s disease (hereditary bleeding disorder)
- Trauma or injury
Serious or life-threatening causes of hematoma
In some cases, hematoma may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include head trauma resulting in a skull hematoma.
Questions for diagnosing the cause of hematoma
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your hematoma including:
- When did you first notice your hematoma?
- Where is your hematoma?
- Do you remember what caused your hematoma?
- Do you have a history of blood clotting problems?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- Are you taking any medications?
What are the potential complications of hematoma?
Mild hematomas or bruises are generally free of complications in healthy individuals. Larger or severe hematomas can have more serious complications, including infection. Hematomas inside the head can cause life-threatening complications.
Because hematoma can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in life-threatening complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
- Cardiac arrest
- Respiratory arrest
Subdural hematoma. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000713.htm. Accessed May 27, 2011.
Bleeding. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000045.htm. Accessed May 27, 2011.
What is hematoma?
A hematoma is a pocket of blood inside the body caused by bleeding. It forms when a blood vessel leaks blood into the surrounding tissue. A bruise is a mild type of hematoma. You can also have bleeding inside your skull, which, depending upon its precise location, may be referred to as a subdural, epidural or intraparenchymal hematoma.... Read more about hematoma introduction