All That Swells Is Not A Bruise The Morel-Lavallée Lesion

J Spec Oper Med. 2016 Spring;16(1):109-11.


Frequently overlooked, Morel-Lavallée lesions are associated with a closed degloving or shearing mechanism causing a dehiscence of underlying soft tissue with formation of a potential space. This space fills with blood, lymph, and cellular debris, giving the lesion a fluctuant appearance on examination. The potential space associated with larger lesions can be a source for hemorrhage in the appropriate clinical context. However, these lesions are often diagnosed late in their clinical course or are misdiagnosed, leading to long-term complications. Management of this injury typically depends upon the size of the lesion. This article discusses a Morel-Lavallée lesion in an active-duty Servicemember requiring treatment by a plastic surgeon and includes the pathophysiology of Morel-Lavallée lesions, diagnostic strategies, and management pearls.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Adult
  • Edema / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Region
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / complications*
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / diagnosis*
  • United States