Internal injuries (often called abdominal injuries) should always be taken seriously. The abdominal area lacks any bony structural protections, which means it is vulnerable to a wide range of injuries. Injuries caused by blunt and penetrating abdominal trauma are common in car crashes/collisions, being struck by an object, falls from a height, motorcycle crashes, pedestrian-auto collisions, and contact sports.
The abdominal cavity includes the following structures:
- Abdominal wall, which is made up of muscles
- Solid organs (liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, ovaries, uterus)
- Hollow organs (stomach, small intestine, colon, gall bladder, ureters, bladder)
- Blood vessels
Symptoms of Internal (Abdominal) Injuries:
- Abdominal pain or tenderness
- Abdominal distention or swelling
- Difficulty with urination
- Changes in bowel function or bloating
- Temperature or blood pressure changes
- Weak or rapid pulse
- Cold or clammy skin
- Nausea or vomiting
Blunt & Penetrating Trauma
Blunt trauma can occur in a few ways. Because the abdomen is supported by muscles, it is prone to strains and tears. Minor injuries from the lap seat belt, steering wheel, or another object can result in bruising, swelling, and discomfort. Blunt trauma in this area can also result in injuries to internal organs. Solid organs are most susceptible to injury when this occurs and the most commonly damaged organs are the spleen and liver. Serious injuries to internal organs can be fatal if not caught by a physician and treated as soon as possible after the trauma.
Penetrating trauma occurs when an object breaks the skin and enters the body. Both solid and hollow organs are at risk of harm from penetrating injuries. More severe penetrating abdominal injuries can cause internal bleeding. The small intestine is most likely to be hurt in a penetrating injury, and can result in a bowel obstruction, an abscess, and infection. A penetrated bowel will require surgery to prevent peritonitis and septic shock.
Not every internal injury presents itself right away. Examples include an obstruction, abscess, ruptured hematoma, or abdominal compartment syndrome.
Scar tissue forms after an injury to the body, but an obstruction is when scar tissue around the small intestine can end up twisting and blocking the bowel. This can cause extreme pain and vomiting and may require surgery to fix.
An abscess is a collection of pus that can cause a bacterial infection. This can form in and around the organs in the abdomen. If left untreated, it can hurt the organs and blood vessels near it. The infection could also spread into the bloodstream, which could be fatal.
Hematomas are collections of blood outside of vessels. These can rupture days or months after the initial injury. If the hematoma is in the liver or spleen, it can cause massive internal bleeding. Hematomas in the intestinal wall can perforate causing contents to leak into the abdomen, which can cause inflammation of the peritoneum known as peritonitis.
Abdominal compartment syndrome occurs when swelling within the abdomen increases the pressure too much within the body and restricts blood flow to the organs. This causes pain and organ damage, and is more likely to occur in people who suffered severe abdominal injuries in a car accident or who required surgery to correct an abdominal injury.
If you or a loved one have experienced internal injuries because of another party’s negligent or reckless conduct, let us help. Our goal is to secure the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery. Contact us today.