A traumatic impact to your body during a car accident can cause damage to blood vessels and/or internal organs. This can lead to internal bleeding. According to WebMD, internal bleeding can be dangerous for two different reasons. The displaced blood can pool in a body cavity and put pressure on tissues or organs in the vicinity, and the loss of blood can also cause problems such as hypovolemic shock.
When you present to the hospital with symptoms of possible internal bleeding, doctors must determine its severity. This informs the choice of treatment options available.
Doctors use imaging studies to confirm the presence of internal bleeding. A CT scan is an X-ray that uses a computer to produce detailed cross-sectional images of the body. An ultrasound bounces high-frequency sound waves off internal structures in the body to produce a picture that includes soft tissues. Either or both imaging techniques may be helpful in detecting internal bleeding.
Internal bleeding can cause your blood pressure to drop to an unsafe level. To prevent this, your doctor may administer blood transfusions or intravenous fluids. Slow or delayed internal bleeding may stop on its own. Your doctor may recommend observation if he or she believes this is likely.
However, severe or ongoing internal bleeding requires surgery. A thoracotomy protects the lungs and heart from pressure due to excess blood in the chest cavity by incising along the rib cage to access the chest and identify the source of bleeding. Bleeding in the abdomen requires an exploratory laparotomy that allows the doctor to explore the abdomen and identify the source of bleeding via a large incision.