Hematoma: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Hematoma?

Hematoma is a collection of blood outside of a blood vessel. It occurs because the wall of a blood vessel wall, artery, vein or capillary, has been damaged and blood has leaked into tissues where it does not belong.
The blood is usually clotted or partially clotted, and it exists within an organ or in a soft tissue space, such as muscle.
Hematomas are named based on their location. Some examples include:
  • Subdural hematoma: a hematoma between the brain tissue and the inside lining of the brain
  • Spinal epidural hematoma: a hematoma between spinal vertebrae and the outside lining of the spinal cord
  • Intracranial epidural hematoma: a hematoma between the skull and the outside lining of the brain
  • Subungual hematoma: a hematoma under the nail
  • Intra-abdominal, peritoneal, or retroperitoneal hematoma: a hematoma inside the abdominal cavity
  • Ear or aural hematoma: a hematoma between the ear cartilage and overlying skin
  • Splenic hematoma: a hematoma within the spleen
  • Hepatic hematoma: a hematoma within the liver

Recovery Time

Most hematomas of the skin are due to contusions and will gradually resolve overtime within few days.


Diagnosis of a hematoma includes physical inspection along with a comprehensive medical history mostly no further evaluation will be required. However, depending upon the injury or presentation, blood tests may be ordered.

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