Contusion vs. Ecchymosis

By Jaxson

  • Contusion

    A contusion, commonly known as a bruise, is a type of hematoma of tissue in which capillaries and sometimes venules are damaged by trauma, allowing blood to seep, hemorrhage, or extravasate into the surrounding interstitial tissues. The bruise then remains visible until the blood is either absorbed by tissues or cleared by immune system action. Bruises, which do not blanch under pressure, can involve capillaries at the level of skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscle, or bone. Bruises are not to be confused with other similar-looking lesions primarily distinguished by their diameter or causation. These lesions include petechia (1 cm caused by blood dissecting through tissue planes and settled in an area remote from the site of trauma or pathology such as periorbital ecchymosis, e.g.,”raccoon eyes”, arising from a basilar skull fracture or from a neuroblastoma).

    As a type of hematoma, a bruise is always caused by internal bleeding into the interstitial tissues which does not break through the skin, usually initiated by blunt trauma, which causes damage through physical compression and deceleration forces. Trauma sufficient to cause bruising can occur from a wide variety of situations including accidents, falls, and surgeries. Disease states such as insufficient or malfunctioning platelets, other coagulation deficiencies, or vascular disorders, such as venous blockage associated with severe allergies can lead to the formation of purpura which is not to be confused with trauma-related bruising/contusion. If the trauma is sufficient to break the skin and allow blood to escape the interstitial tissues, the injury is not a bruise but instead a different variety of hemorrhage called bleeding. However, such injuries may be accompanied by bruising elsewhere.

    Bruises often induce pain, but small bruises are not normally dangerous alone. Sometimes bruises can be serious, leading to other more life-threatening forms of hematoma, such as when associated with serious injuries, including fractures and more severe internal bleeding. The likelihood and severity of bruising depends on many factors, including type and healthiness of affected tissues. Minor bruises may be easily recognized in people with light skin color by characteristic blue or purple appearance (idiomatically described as “black and blue”) in the days following the injury.

  • Ecchymosis

    An ecchymosis is a subcutaneous spot of bleeding (from extravasation of blood) with diameter larger than 1 centimetre (0.39 in). It is similar to (and sometimes indistinguishable from) a hematoma, commonly called a bruise, though the terms are not interchangeable in careful usage. Specifically, bruises are caused by trauma whereas ecchymoses, which are the same as the spots of purpura except larger, are not necessarily caused by trauma, often being caused by pathophysiologic cell function, and some diseases such as Marburg virus disease.

    A broader definition of ecchymosis is the escape of blood into the tissues from ruptured blood vessels. The term also applies to the subcutaneous discoloration resulting from seepage of blood within the contused tissue.

  • Contusion (noun)

    A wound, such as a bruise, in which the skin is not broken, often having broken blood vessels and discolouration.

  • Contusion (noun)

    The act of bruising.

  • Ecchymosis (noun)

    A skin discoloration caused by bleeding underneath the skin; a bruise.

  • Ecchymosis (noun)

    The leaking of blood into the tissues of the body as a result of a bruise.

  • Contusion (noun)

    a region of injured tissue or skin in which blood capillaries have been ruptured; a bruise

    “vigorously shaking the head back and forth can produce contusions to the soft structure of the brain”

    “a dark contusion on his cheek was beginning to swell”

  • Ecchymosis (noun)

    a discoloration of the skin resulting from bleeding underneath, typically caused by bruising

    “the infrequent association of bacterial sepsis with ecchymoses”

    “there are signs of ecchymosis”

Oxford Dictionary

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