A woman with recurrent umbilical bleeding: a case report

J Med Case Rep. 2022 Nov 27;16(1):444. doi: 10.1186/s13256-022-03675-2.


Background: Umbilical discharge in an adult is rare and generates broad diagnostic considerations. Umbilical anatomy is variable owing to congenital abnormalities and acquired pathology such as umbilical hernias. The umbilicus can be a site of primary or metastatic malignancy or endometriosis.

Case presentation: A 40-year-old white American woman came to the clinic with a 2-day history of spontaneous umbilical bleeding. She reported periumbilical pain associated with nausea and emesis. There were no visible skin abnormalities, but deep palpation of the abdomen produced a thin, watery, serosanguineous fluid from the umbilicus. She experienced a similar episode of umbilical bleeding 5 years prior without clear cause. Laboratory workup was notable for mildly elevated C-reactive protein . Computed tomography imaging revealed a fat-containing umbilical hernia with fat necrosis, necessitating complete surgical resection of the umbilicus.

Conclusions: Umbilical hernia with fat necrosis is a rare condition that should be considered in adults with umbilical discharge. Additional diagnostic considerations in adults with spontaneous umbilical bleeding/discharge include embryonal remnants, omphalitis, and metastasis. If the cause is not readily apparent on physical exam, imaging with computed tomography should be considered to assess for hernia and embryonal anomalies.

Keywords: Case report; Umbilical bleeding; Umbilical discharge; Umbilical hernia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Endometriosis* / pathology
  • Fat Necrosis* / complications
  • Fat Necrosis* / pathology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Hernia, Umbilical* / complications
  • Hernia, Umbilical* / diagnostic imaging
  • Hernia, Umbilical* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms*
  • Skin Diseases* / pathology
  • Umbilicus / pathology
  • Umbilicus / surgery