Injury Physicians Blog

Internal Bleeding After A Car Accident

July 28, 2015

Internal BleedingInternal bleeding is a serious consequence of extreme trauma. Sometimes internal bleeding is hard to detect, but it’s important that you receive medical treatment right away, even if the bleeding stops on its own. Today, we take a look at the causes, diagnosis and treatment of internal bleeding after a car accident.

Causes of Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding is generally caused by an extreme trauma, but today, we’re simply going to focus on internal bleeding caused by the impact of a car crash. Generally, there are two types of trauma in a car accident that can cause internal bleeding:

  • Blunt Trauma – This injury occurs when your body collides with an object at a high speed. In a car, blunt trauma can occur if your body strikes the windshield, steering wheel, airbag or seatbelt. Blunt trauma can cause blood vessels in the body to rupture or tear, which can lead to internal bleeding.
  • Penetrating Trauma – This type of injury occurs when a foreign object penetrates the body, tearing a hole in one or more of your blood vessels. These are more rare in car accidents, but they do happen. Glass is one of the leading causes of penetrating trauma in car crashes.

Symptoms of Internal Bleeding

Signs of internal bleeding are generally easy to identify, but it’s not always straightforward. Here are some symptoms of internal bleeding:

  • Abdominal pain/Swelling after trauma to the liver or spleen.
  • Light-headedness, dizziness or fainting.
  • Ecchymosis (purple discolration) of the skin or soft tissue in the impact area.
  • Swelling, tightness and pain in your legs can be a sign of internal bleeding in your thigh.
  • Headache or loss of consciousness.

Diagnosis and Treatment

As you might imagine, it’s of great importance to diagnose and treat the condition right away. A doctor can typically diagnose internal bleeding with the help of imaging tests, like an ultrasound or CT scan. Once they’ve uncovered the source of bleeding, your doctors will generally prescribe one of two types of treatments; observation or surgery.

Although we hesitate to categorize any internal bleeding injury as minor, if the imaging doesn’t reveal anything too damaging, your doctor will likely order you to remain under observation. Internal bleeding can clot and stop on its own, and your doctor will want to see how your body responds to the injury before opting for an invasive surgery.

On the other hand, if bleeding is severe or it’s not stopping, surgery will be required to address the problem. As you probably guessed, the type of operation you’ll receive depends on where you’re bleeding from internally. In most cases, internal bleeding is stopped by cutting an incision near the damaged area and working to prevent the continued bleeding. Bleeding can be stopped with suture material.

Other times, the goal of the operation is to relieve pressure or swelling in the area. For example, the head and the thighs are two areas where too much pressure can hinder blood flow to vital areas of the body. In these cases, your doctor might make a small incision or hole in the area to help relieve pressure.

In any case, if you suspect that you suffered an internal injury, get to a doctor or emergency room right away. If left untreated, you can lose consciousness and even die. Talk to your doctor about any pain you experience in the wake of a car crash.

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