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All That Swells Is Not A Bruise The Morel-Lavallée Lesion

Spring 2016

Callahan CL, Eisenman J. 16(1). 109 - 111. (Journal Article)


Frequently overlooked, Morel-Lavallée lesions are associated with a closed degloving or shearing mechanism causing a dehiscence of underlying soft tissue with formation of a potential space. This space fills with blood, lymph, and cellular debris, giving the lesion a fluctuant appearance on examination. The potential space associated with larger lesions can be a source for hemorrhage in the appropriate clinical context. However, these lesions are often diagnosed late in their clinical course or are misdiagnosed, leading to long-term complications. Management of this injury typically depends upon the size of the lesion. This article discusses a Morel-Lavallée lesion in an active-duty Servicemember requiring treatment by a plastic surgeon and includes the pathophysiology of Morel-Lavallée lesions, diagnostic strategies, and management pearls.

Keywords: Morel-Lavallée; injury, degloving; injury, shearing; pain, back

PMID: 27045507

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