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What is Hemoperitoneum?

Hemoperitoneum is a medical condition characterized by the presence of blood within the peritoneal cavity, the space in the abdomen that houses various organs. This can result from trauma, surgery, or rupture of blood vessels or organs. Understanding its causes and symptoms is crucial for timely intervention. Curious about how this internal bleeding affects the body? Let's explore the impact together.
Geisha A. Legazpi
Geisha A. Legazpi

Hemoperitoneum refers to the condition when there is blood in the peritoneal cavity. It is also called hematoperitoneum. Conditions with associated hemoperitoneum are considered medical emergencies because the spillage of blood in the peritoneal cavity is indicative of organ rupture. Additionally, because blood is a toxic irritant to cells outside the blood vessels, it has to be cleaned up immediately. When there is blood in the peritoneal cavity, it usually manifests externally as a discoloration of the abdomen.

Different organs are contained within the peritoneal cavity. These organs include parts of the gastrointestinal tract such as the stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, and pancreas. Parts of the reproductive tract, such as the uterus, ovaries, and Fallopian tubes, are also located within the peritoneal cavity. Blood vessels, such as the celiac artery, superior mesenteric artery, and inferior mesenteric artery, provide most of the blood supply within the peritoneal cavity.

Trauma to the abdomen may injure the pancreas, spleen or other organs and lead to hemoperitoneum.
Trauma to the abdomen may injure the pancreas, spleen or other organs and lead to hemoperitoneum.

Hemoperitoneum occurs when any of the organs or blood vessels mentioned perforates, ruptures, or becomes subjected to trauma. For instance, with a penetrating or blunt trauma to the abdomen, the spleen or the liver can be injured. When mechanical damage occurs to these organs, blood seepage becomes inevitable, leading to hematoperitoneum.

A common cause of hematoperitoneum in women is ectopic pregnancy. In ectopic pregnancy, the embryo implants in parts of the female reproductive tract that are not ideal for growth and development. The most common sites of ectopic pregnancy are the Fallopian tubes and the ovaries. As the embryo overwhelms its blood supply and increases in size, rupture becomes imminent. Upon rupture, blood is spilled into the cavity and results in hemoperitoneum.

Ectopic pregnancy is a common cause of hemoperitoneum in women.
Ectopic pregnancy is a common cause of hemoperitoneum in women.

Another reproductive organ that could be affected by hematoperitoneum is the uterus, a strong muscular organ that has a rich blood supply. When it ruptures, a large amount of blood is spilled into the peritoneal cavity. A previous caesarean section is the most common predisposing factor of uterine rupture and subsequent hemoperitoneum.

Gastric ulcer perforation is a gastroenterology cause of hemoperitoneum, although it is less common. The most common causes of gastric ulcers are persistently high gastric acid levels and colonization of the gastric mucosa by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. With an ulcer, there is an erosion of the mucosa. If this process is not arrested or healed, the erosion reaches the outer parts of the gastric tube and a hole is created. Blood vessels are also torn during perforation, so hemoperitoneum can follow.

The perforation of a gastric ulcer is a cause of hemoperitoneum.
The perforation of a gastric ulcer is a cause of hemoperitoneum.

When hemoperitoneum occurs, immediate surgery is done to locate the bleeding source. If the spleen is greatly involved, it is removed through a procedure called splenectomy. In cases where the liver is involved, the surgeons may opt to do sponge cleanup and thrombin administration. If major abdominal arteries are involved, these are clamped and ligated. The blood is cleaned and blood coagulants are given to prevent further damage.

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    • Trauma to the abdomen may injure the pancreas, spleen or other organs and lead to hemoperitoneum.
      By: snapgalleria
      Trauma to the abdomen may injure the pancreas, spleen or other organs and lead to hemoperitoneum.
    • Ectopic pregnancy is a common cause of hemoperitoneum in women.
      By: 9nong
      Ectopic pregnancy is a common cause of hemoperitoneum in women.
    • The perforation of a gastric ulcer is a cause of hemoperitoneum.
      By: p6m5
      The perforation of a gastric ulcer is a cause of hemoperitoneum.
    • The uterus, ovaries, and Fallopian tubes are located within the peritoneal cavity.
      By: reineg
      The uterus, ovaries, and Fallopian tubes are located within the peritoneal cavity.
    • When hemoperitoneum occurs, immediate surgery is required.
      By: Nejron Photo
      When hemoperitoneum occurs, immediate surgery is required.
    • Blunt trauma to the abdomen may damage the spleen or liver.
      By: danilobiancalana
      Blunt trauma to the abdomen may damage the spleen or liver.
    • Ectopic pregnancies often require emergency surgical intervention to prevent hermoperitoneum.
      By: Tyler Olson
      Ectopic pregnancies often require emergency surgical intervention to prevent hermoperitoneum.
    • The spleen is an organ contained within the peritoneal cavity.
      By: CLIPAREA.com
      The spleen is an organ contained within the peritoneal cavity.