What is Abdominal Trauma?

Nat Robinson

Abdominal trauma is any event which causes serious injury to the abdomen. The trauma may be so significant that multiple abdominal organs may be damaged. Most abdominal traumas are categorized as being either a penetrating or blunt injury. In any event, this is a very serious situation and the person who has suffered the trauma should get medical attention as soon as possible. There are many ways a person may suffer an abdominal injury, with some of the most common ways being an accident or an assault.

Abdominal pain may be caused by trauma to the abdomen.
Abdominal pain may be caused by trauma to the abdomen.

An automobile accident can result in abdominal trauma. This is generally one of the most common causes of blunt abdominal injury. It may be considered a blunt force trauma if the injury is caused by excessive force to the abdomen, rather than the abdomen being penetrated. Often, during a car accident, a person may be forcibly pushed into parts of the car, such as the steering wheel. If a person slams into a steering wheel, the impact of the collision can cause a lot of internal damage and may result in abdominal hemorrhage.

Severe abdominal trauma may damage internal organs.
Severe abdominal trauma may damage internal organs.

Sometimes, a fall from a very high distance can result in abdominal trauma. This could be anything from falling off of a building, a ladder or simply falling onto an object laying on the ground. Even if the skin is not penetrated, there can still be a significant abdominal injury. Most of the time, this type of injury will result in a great deal of abdominal pain. Although, any type of blunt trauma can cause more severe symptoms such as organ bruising and internal bleeding.

A penetrating abdominal trauma can occur if the skin is punctured by an injury to the abdomen. Penetrating injuries can be more noticeable because you can generally see them with the naked eye. The skin will usually be broken by the object and in very serious cases internal organs may be exposed. An assault such as being shot with a gun in the abdomen, with the bullet penetrating the skin could case this type of injury. Additionally, being stabbed with a knife could create abdominal trauma, as various abdominal organs may be punctured by the injury.

When a person endures any type of abdominal trauma, it is always an emergency situation. Any time this type of trauma is endured a person could rapidly bleed to death. The most common organs damaged by abdominal traumas include the spleen, stomach, liver, and bowels, all of which are essential to a person's livelihood. Sometimes, people endure abdominal injuries and show no outward signs of being hurt, even if there is significant internal damage. For this reason, prompt medical treatment is urgent.

Being stabbed with a knife can lead to abdominal trauma.
Being stabbed with a knife can lead to abdominal trauma.

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Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - Well, the nature of abdominal trauma is what makes it difficult, for doctors and the body alike. There is so much vital stuff in there that it isn't an option to just cut it off or close it down for a while, like they can do for a limb or even parts of the brain. All those organs have to keep functioning or everything stops.

And blunt trauma is likely to do damage to more than one system, which makes it even more complicated.


@croydon - From what I hear crush injuries are the worst ones, especially when the person is underneath a weight for a long period. They do this often in TV shows because it's very dramatic and tragic. The person might not feel any pain at all, because their lower body or torso is completely caught underneath an object and they are full of the hormones that come with shock.

But if they are left there for too long (and that's not very long at all) they build up more and more of these hormones until, eventually, releasing them from their trap will just cause a massive organ failure and there's nothing the trauma team can do.

Often they will be talking and laughing and crying right up until the point that they pass away. I guess blunt trauma is just something that is so unspecific that the body isn't particularly good at dealing with it at all.


My uncle used to ride a motorcycle until he had an injury like this. I don't know exactly what happened, because it was when he was a young man but he was struck by a car and ended up in hospital. Apparently the doctors said there was nothing else wrong, but his mother, my grandmother, kept insisting that he was far too pale. Eventually she managed to get them to do another examination and they discovered that his pelvis had been split and that he was bleeding internally.

I always find this story particularly scary because my uncle was apparently not in such enormous pain that it justified the exam, but all the while he was dying until they got him into the surgery. It scares me that such a massive injury could go unnoticed among minor bruises and scrapes.

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