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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Morel-Lavallée Lesion Following a Low-speed Injury: A Case Report


Introduction: Soft tissue injuries are a common presenting complaint seen in the emergency department following trauma. However, internal degloving injuries are not commonly seen by the emergency provider.

Case Report: A 57-year-old male presented with right lower extremity pain, bruising, and swelling after a low-speed bicycle accident five days prior. Physical examination revealed an edematous and ecchymotic right lower extremity extending from the mid-thigh distally. Computed tomography of the thigh demonstrated a hyperdense foci within the fluid collection suggesting internal hemorrhage and internal de-gloving suggestive of a Morel-Lavallée lesion.

Discussion: The Morel-Lavallée lesion is a post-traumatic soft tissue injury that occurs as a result of shearing forces that create a potential space for the collection of blood, lymph, and fat. First described in 1853 by French physician Maurice Morel-Lavallée, this internal degloving injury can serve as a nidus of infection if not treated appropriately. Magnetic resonance imaging has become the diagnostic modality of choice due to its high resolution of soft tissue injuries. Treatment has been focused on either conservative management or surgical debridement after consultation with a surgeon.

Conclusion: The emergency physician should consider Morel-Lavallée lesions in patients with a traumatic hematoma formation to avoid complications that come from delayed diagnosis.

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