Skip to Content

Blunt Abdominal Injury


What is a blunt abdominal injury?

A blunt abdominal injury is a direct blow to the abdomen without an open wound. These injuries are caused by car accidents, sports injuries, or a fall. Your pancreas, liver, spleen, kidneys, or bladder may be injured. These injuries may cause internal bleeding.

What are the signs and symptoms of a blunt abdominal injury?

  • Abdominal pain, redness, and swelling
  • Bruises, swelling, or scratches on the abdomen
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blood in your urine
  • Trouble urinating or passing little to no urine
  • Signs of shock, such as a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and pale skin

How is a blunt abdominal injury diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you. You may need tests that require contrast dye. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body. You may need any of the following:

  • Blood and urine tests may show how your organs are working and if you have internal bleeding.
  • An x-ray, ultrasound, CT, or MRI may show the injury and any damage to the surrounding tissues or organs.
  • An angiography may show problems with blood flow in your abdomen. A catheter is placed in a blood vessel in your groin. Dye is inserted. Pictures are taken using an x-ray or a CT scan after the dye goes to your abdominal organs.
  • A cystogram is a type of x-ray that shows your bladder. A catheter is put into your bladder and dye is inserted. X-rays are taken to look for damage or how much urine is in your bladder.
  • An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) may show damage to your pancreas and gallbladder. Contrast dye may be used to show your organs clearly.
  • Peritoneal lavage may show if you have internal bleeding. A catheter and needle are inserted through an incision in your abdomen. Liquid is put into the catheter. Fluid is then removed and checked for signs of blood or bile.

How is a blunt abdominal injury treated?

Your healthcare provider will watch you closely to see if your injury is mild and your condition is stable. You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Embolization is a procedure to stop internal bleeding. A liquid, coil, or gel is injected into a blood vessel.
  • Surgery may be needed to look for and repair bleeding or damaged organs. Ask for more information about the type of surgery you need.

How can I manage my symptoms?

Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • Your pain does not go away, or it gets worse, even after treatment.
  • You feel dizzy or are vomiting.
  • You have trouble urinating.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have a fast heartbeat.
  • You have severe pain in your abdomen.
  • Your abdomen is more swollen and firm.
  • You are urinating little or none at all.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.