Hematoma vs. Ecchymosis - What's the difference?


  • Hematoma

    A hematoma (US spelling) or haematoma (UK spelling) is a localized collection of blood outside the blood vessels, due to either disease or trauma including injury or surgery and may involve blood continuing to seep from broken capillaries. A hematoma is initially in liquid form spread among the tissues including in sacs between tissues where it may coagulate and solidify before blood is reabsorbed into blood vessels. An ecchymosis is a hematoma of the skin larger than 10mm. They may occur among/within many areas such as skin and other organs, connective tissues, bone, joints and muscle. A collection of blood (or even a hemorrhage) may be aggravated by anticoagulant medication (blood thinner). Blood seepage and collection of blood may occur if heparin is given via an intramuscular route; to avoid this, heparin must be given intravenously or subcutaneously. It is not to be confused with hemangioma, which is an abnormal buildup/growth of blood vessels in the skin or internal organs.

  • Ecchymosis

    An ecchymosis is a subcutaneous spot of bleeding (from extravasation of blood) with diameter larger than 1 centimetre (0.39 in). It is similar to (and sometimes indistinguishable from) a hematoma, commonly called a bruise, though the terms are not interchangeable in careful usage. Specifically, bruises are caused by trauma whereas ecchymoses, which are the same as the spots of purpura except larger, are not necessarily caused by trauma, often being caused by pathophysiologic cell function, and some diseases such as Marburg virus disease. A broader definition of ecchymosis is the escape of blood into the tissues from ruptured blood vessels. The term also applies to the subcutaneous discoloration resulting from seepage of blood within the contused tissue.


  • Hematoma (noun)

    A swelling of blood, usually clotted, which forms as a result of broken blood vessels.

  • Ecchymosis (noun)

    A skin discoloration caused by bleeding underneath the skin; a bruise.

  • Ecchymosis (noun)

    The leaking of blood into the tissues of the body as a result of a bruise.

Oxford Dictionary

  • Ecchymosis (noun)

    a discoloration of the skin resulting from bleeding underneath, typically caused by bruising

    "the infrequent association of bacterial sepsis with ecchymoses"

    "there are signs of ecchymosis"

Webster Dictionary

  • Hematoma (noun)

    A localised leakage of blood from the blood vessels into nearby tissues, usually confined within a tissue or organ; especially, a local swelling produced by an effusion of blood beneath the skin, which may clot and discolor the affected area.

  • Ecchymosis (noun)

    A livid or black and blue spot, produced by the extravasation or effusion of blood into the areolar tissue from a contusion.

Princeton's WordNet

  • Hematoma (noun)

    a localized swelling filled with blood

  • Ecchymosis (noun)

    the purple or black-and-blue area resulting from a bruise

  • Ecchymosis (noun)

    the escape of blood from ruptured blood vessels into the surrounding tissue to form a purple or black-and-blue spot on the skin




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