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The risks of internal bleeding

Internal bleeding is an often-serious injury that may result from a car accident after a body part hits or is hit with a blunt or penetrable object. While some internal bleeding is obvious from the injury that causes it, Rhode Island residents may not know that internal bleeding could take days to occur from a less-obvious trauma.

Internal bleeding causes damage because of the pressure the blood puts on tissues and organs and because of the loss of blood. Some people are also at risk for bleeding, such as if they have cirrhosis or severe liver disease. People who have conditions that disrupt the ability of the body to form blood clots, such as hemophilia or von Willebrand's disease, and people who take blood thinners, such as Coumadin or Plavix, are also at risk. Generally, internal bleeding patients are treated in hospital emergency rooms following a car crash, and the treatment they receive depends on the severity of the injury and their risks. Minor to moderate cases are administered intravenous fluids, blood transfusions or both to avoid or correct unsafe drops in blood pressure, and they may be kept for observation.

Doctors use imaging test to identify where the internal bleeding is occurring and to decide what type of treatment is necessary. Exploratory laparotomies are for internal bleeding in the abdomen, during which the surgeon will seal leaky blood vessels. A fasciotomy is for bleeding in the thigh, during which pressure is relieved in the affected area and the bleeding is stopped. During a craniotomy, which occurs in the head, the surgeon relieves pressure from the brain. Thoracotomies allow surgeons to stop bleeding around the lungs or heart.

Internal bleeding could have serious consequences for the victims of car accidents. These individuals could file personal injury lawsuits against the drivers responsible for causing the crashes, seeking damages for the costs of medical treatment as well as lost wages.

Source: WebMD, "Internal Bleeding Due to Trauma", Amita Shroff, M.D., Sept. 9, 2013

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