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What Causes a Retroperitoneal Hematoma?

By Marco Sumayao
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A retroperitoneal hematoma occurs when blood pools in the retroperitoneal space located in the lower back. The most common cause for this condition is physical damage, as a powerful blow to the lower back or its surrounding area in the torso can result in internal bleeding, increasing the likelihood of a hematoma. Patients can also develop a retroperitoneal hematoma as a result of a botched surgical procedure or an accident involving a medical apparatus installed near the area. Anticoagulant medications have been identified as a possible risk factor for the condition, allowing blood from an internal injury to flow more easily into the retroperitoneal space. In rare cases, this type of hematoma might be caused by a ruptured malignant tumor.

Individuals usually develop a retroperitoneal hematoma after experiencing physical trauma near the lower back. Strong enough impact can rupture blood vessels and other soft tissues located in the area, causing significant internal bleeding. A pocket of blood can then forms in the retroperitoneal space; if left untreated, it can impair circulation to other areas of the body, resulting in more serious medical issues.

The likelihood of developing the condition increases when certain internal organs are subject to damage. Other medical conditions that affect the kidneys, pancreas, and adrenal glands can weaken the organs' tissues, making them more likely to rupture. In such cases, a retroperitoneal hematoma might occur alongside other complications.

Surgeons might indirectly be responsible for the condition in a number of patients. As with any form of surgical intervention, procedures done in areas near the retroperitoneal space present a risk of damaging nearby tissues. The harm to the tissue might be done out of necessity, as some complications might require surgeons to make additional incisions, or as an accident. The latter is considered an extremely rare occurrence, however, as most surgeons are careful enough to avoid such mistakes.

There are cases where medical apparatuses installed in the body might contribute to the development of a retroperitoneal hematoma. The most common cases involve accidents with catheters inserted into blood vessels and organs located near the retroperitoneal space. An aortic catheter, for example, can become slightly dislodged if the patient's body is agitated enough, causing the vessel to rupture.

Malignant growths, such as cancerous tumors, are another possible cause of retroperitoneal hematomas. These growths tend to increase the likelihood of internal injury, which subsequently increases an individual's chance of developing a hematoma. Cases in which the condition is caused by damage to abnormal growths usually involve cysts and tumors located in the duodenum.

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Discussion Comments
By anon949650 — On May 06, 2014

Retroperitoneal hematoma can be caused by a AAA- abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is fairly common.

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