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Hematoma after giving birth: Postpartum spontaneous vulvar hematoma as a cause of maternal near miss: a case report and review of the literature

Postpartum spontaneous vulvar hematoma as a cause of maternal near miss: a case report and review of the literature

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  • J Med Case Rep
  • v.16; 2022
  • PMC8883656

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J Med Case Rep. 2022; 16: 85.

Published online 2022 Feb 28. doi: 10.1186/s13256-022-03281-2

,1,1,1 and 2

Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer

Data Availability Statement


Postpartum spontaneous vulvar hematoma is a rare complication of childbirth that can potentially cause maternal death if not managed properly and in a timely manner.

Case summary

We present the case of maternal near miss secondary to postpartum hemorrhage secondary to vulvar hematoma after home delivery in a 28-year-old para IV mother from rural Ethiopia. The case was surgically managed under spinal analgesia. The mother and her newborn were discharged on the fourth postprocedure day.


Neglected and inappropriately managed postpartum vulvar hematoma can cause significant maternal morbidity; therefore, timely surgical exploration, ligation of bleeding vessels, and obliteration of dead space can avert severe maternal complications

Keywords: Vulvar hematoma, Postpartum, Severe anemia, Maternal near miss

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), maternal near miss (MNM) is defined as “a woman who nearly died but survived a complication that occurred during pregnancy, childbirth or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy” [1]. In Ethiopia, for every woman who dies from pregnancy-related causes, 12–21 others experience maternal near miss (MNM) [1–3]. One of the causes of MNM is postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) [1, 4, 5]. The major causes of PPH are uterine atony, genital tract laceration, retained tissues (placenta and membranes), and coagulopathy [4, 5]. Vulvar hematoma is among genital tract traumas that cause PPH [5, 6].

A vulvar hematoma is a collection of blood in the vulva [6]. The vulva is soft tissue mainly composed of smooth muscle and loose connective tissue and is supplied by branches of the pudendal artery [7, 8]. The venous drainage is provided by labial veins, and labial veins drain into the external and internal pudendal veins [8, 9]. This vulvar vasculature commonly develops varicosities during pregnancy, especially in parous women, due to increased venous pressure created by the increasing weight of the uterus [8]. Damage to labial branches of the internal pudendal artery in this vascular network easily initiates hematoma development [7–9].

Postpartum vulvar hematomas cause maternal morbidities such as anemia, postpartum hemorrhage, superinfection, necrotizing fasciitis, prolonged hospitalization, and need for transfusion [5–7]. Here we present, a case of postpartum vulvar hematoma as the cause of MNM.

This is a 28-year-old para IV mother from rural Ethiopia who gave birth to an alive female neonate weighing 3000 g at home 24 hours before presentation. She did not remember her last normal menstrual period (LNMP) but claimed to be amenorrheic for 9 months. She had antenatal care (ANC) at a nearby health center where she had routine investigations and care during pregnancy. During the last antenatal visit, she was told to come to the health center when she feels labor pains. However, her labor advanced within 6 hours of the onset of labor pain. She gave birth normally at home with the assistance of traditional birth attendants. The mother reported that there was neither difficulty with delivery of the placenta nor excessive bleeding during and after delivery. She noticed gradual swelling of her right vulva that was associated with vulvar pain. Due to the worsening of these complaints, the family took her to nearby hospital. At this hospital, evacuation of vulvar hematoma (6 cm × 8 cm) was done. The managing team evacuated 500 ml of hematoma and referred the patient to Wollega University Referral Hospital (WURH) for blood transfusion.

Upon arrival to WURH, the patient was re-evaluated by the charge resident physician and consultant gynecologist, and obstetrician. The mother reported vaginal bleeding from the vulva on her way to WURH, significant swelling of the vulva, and vulvar pain. She had difficulty with micturition. She also complained of palpitation, easy fatigability, vertigo, and headache. The patient had no history of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, or bleeding tendency.

On examination, she was acutely sick-looking. Her vital signs were blood pressure (BP) 90/60 mmHg, pulse rate (PR) 136 beats per minute, respiratory rate (RR) 22 breaths per minute, and temperature 37.1 °C. She had dry buccal mucosa and pale conjunctivae. Lymph glandular system, chest, and cardiovascular system were normal. Abdominal examination showed a 20-week-sized uterus that was well contracted and nontender, and the bladder was distended. There were no signs of fluid collection or organomegaly. On genital examination, there was a 12 × 20 cm right-sided vulvar mass extending to the mons pubis and posteriorly to the right buttock (Fig. ). The mass was tender and fluctuant. There were two stitches applied to it. However, there was bleeding from this site. There was no active vaginal bleeding or vaginal and cervical tear. She exhibited palmar pallor. On neurologic examination, she was oriented to time, person, and place. She had normal reflexes and no neurologic deficits. With the final diagnosis of severe anemia secondary to postpartum hemorrhage secondary to a vulvar hematoma, she was admitted to the obstetric ward. At admission, she was investigated and the results were as indicated in Table .

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Postpartum spontaneous vulvar hematoma managed at Wollega University Referral Hospital, Western Ethiopia, 2021

Table 1

Summary of laboratory investigations of the case of postpartum spontaneous vulvar hematoma managed at Wollega University Referral Hospital, Western Ethiopia, 2021

Time of investigationsLaboratory testsResults
At admissionCBC countWBC count 1760 cells/μl; RBC count 1. 1 million cells/μL; hematocrit 10.3%a; platelet count 189,000 cells/μl; MCV 92.2 fL; MCH 30.6 picograms(pg)
RBG145 mg/dl
Blood groupB+
Abdominopelvic ultrasoundEmpty uterus, no peritoneal collection
After procedureCBC countWBC count 1971 cells/μl; RBC count 1. 4 million cells/μl; platelet count 177,000 cells/μl; MCV 92.1 fL; MCH 30.7 picograms(pg)
Hematocrit 12.9%b
Hematocrit 17.2%c

Open in a separate window

CBC complete blood count, WBC white blood cell, RBC red blood cell, VDRL Venereal Disease Research Laboratory, HBsAg hepatitis B surface antigen, RBG random blood glucose, MCV mean corpuscular volume, MCH mean corpuscular hemoglobin

aAt admission

bAfter the first transfusion

cAfter the second transfusion

The patient was prepared and taken to the operation room. Under spinal analgesia, through a previous incision made at referring hospital, about 700 ml of clotted blood was evacuated from vulvar hematoma. The actively bleeding vessels were identified and ligated. Then, the wound was sutured in three layers. The site was observed for bleeding and vulvar swelling. A hemostatic gauze was used for further compression and removed after 12 hours. The patient was transferred to ward where she was transfused with two units of compatible blood. On the fourth postprocedure day, the patient was discharged with ferrous sulfate and appropriate advice on vulvar care.

This is the case of maternal near miss in rural Ethiopia. The major causes of maternal near-miss events are obstetric hemorrhages, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, difficult labor and delivery, sepsis, complications of abortion, and uterine rupture [1, 5]. This patient presented with postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) secondary to spontaneous vulvar hematoma. It is an unusual cause of PPH [5, 6]. The other causes of PPH such as uterine atony retained tissue, coagulopathy, and genital tract laceration were excluded from patient history, physical examination, and laboratory investigation. A huge postpartum vulvar hematoma explained the patient’s condition. The hematoma was severe enough to cause maternal shock and severe anemia. This patient could have died had she not been aggressively managed with intravenous fluid, blood transfusion, and surgical intervention.

Postpartum vulvar hematomas are rare events in modern obstetrics. Their magnitude varies from 1 per 300 to 1 per 15,000 deliveries. It can be classified into obstetric and non-obstetric vulvar hematomas [6, 8, 10, 11]. Postpartum vulvar hematomas most frequently result from genital tract laceration [8] or improper hemostasis during the repair of perineal tears or an episiotomy wound. Failure to take precautions while suturing the apex of the episiotomy may result in a large vulvovaginal hematoma due to the distensible nature of the tissue [12, 13].

Postpartum spontaneous vulvar hematomas are rare events. They result from injury to blood vessels in the absence of laceration or incision of the surrounding tissue (such as pseudoaneurysm and traumatic arteriovenous fistula) [10, 13]. They usually follow precipitate labor, macrosomic babies, prolonged second stage of labor, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, coagulopathy, or vulvar varicosities [2, 10, 11, 14]. In our case, the total duration of labor was only 6 hours, which might have been the triggering factor. It occurred spontaneously after home vaginal delivery. It is observed that most spontaneous vulvar hematomas are right-sided vulvar hematomas [11] as in our case. This may be due to dextrorotation of the uterus, which might cause vulvar varicosities.

The pathogenesis of vulvar hematomas is due to iatrogenic injury to blood vessels and/or spontaneous rupture resulting in various symptoms such as vulvar swelling, vulvar pain, and urologic symptoms [6, 8, 10, 15]. Our patient presented with vulvar swelling, vulvar pain, and difficulty with urination. As bleeding into the vulva is largely restricted only by the Colles fascia and the urogenital diaphragm, a hematoma in this area is visible as tender fluctuant mass [15] as in our case.

Vulvar hematomas may develop within hours after delivery or be initially misdiagnosed as vulva swelling or edema until the delayed formation of the hematoma [8, 14]. Early recognition is paramount in reducing the associated morbidity, improving patient outcomes, and shortening the length of hospital stay. Delay in recognition and management may result in adverse consequences and increase maternal morbidity [7, 11, 14] as in our case.

The management of vulvar hematomas depends on the size of the hematoma, hemodynamic stability of the patient, availability of medical resources, and duration of the hematoma [9, 10, 14, 16]. Smaller and chronic vulvar hematomas can be conservatively managed [9] including the use of sitz baths, ice packs, empiric antibiotics, pain medication, and/or blood transfusion [12, 14]. However, large and rapidly expanding hematomas, as in this case, are managed by surgical techniques [9, 11]. The surgical management can be surgical exploration or selective arterial embolization [9, 10]. The surgical exploration consists of incision and drainage of the hematoma, ligation of the bleeding vessels, and packing or placement of drainage tube [9–11]. Our patient was managed by a similar approach. However, the primary treating hospital did not place a vaginal pack or drainage tube. As a result, the patient was having ongoing active bleeding from the incision site on the way to the referral hospital. This made the patient develop a recurrent huge hematoma. Therefore, optimal management of vulvar hematomas includes surgical exploration, ligation of bleeding vessels, obliteration of the dead space and placing pack in the vagina, placing drainage tube, or applying pressure over it [9, 10, 14]. The surgical exploration also prevents pressure necrosis of the surrounding tissue and decreases the risk of infection and necrotizing fasciitis [6, 8]. Sometimes, however, a surgical repair may fail or a recurrent hematoma can be formed, as in our case. In such cases, selective arterial embolization is the treatment of choice [10, 17].

Neglected and inappropriately managed postpartum vulvar hematoma can cause significant maternal morbidity; therefore, timely surgical exploration, ligation of bleeding vessels, and obliteration of dead space can avert maternal complications

We thank the patient for allowing the publication of this case report.

Authors’ details

TT is Associate Professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Institute of Health Sciences, Wollega University; AW is Assistant Professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Institute of Health Sciences, Wollega University; AL is medical doctor and first-year resident of obstetrics and gynecology, Institute of Health Sciences, Wollega University; RO is lecturer in the department of public health, Institute of Health Sciences, Wollega University.

ANCAntenatal care
CBCComplete blood count
HBsAgHepatitis B surface antigen
LNMPLast normal menstrual period
MCHMean corpuscular hemoglobin
MCVMean corpuscular volume
MNMMaternal near miss
PPHPostpartum hemorrhage
RBCRed blood cell
RBGRandom blood glucose
VDRLVenereal Disease Research Laboratory
WBCWhite blood cell
WURWollega University Referral Hospital

All authors made a significant contribution to the work reported, whether that is in the conception, study design, execution, acquisition of data, analysis, and interpretation, or in all these areas; took part in drafting, revising, or critically reviewing the article; gave final approval of the version to be published; have agreed on the journal to which the article has been submitted; and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

No funding source

The datasets used during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Wollega University Referral Hospital has approved the publication of this case. The study protocol is performed per the relevant guidelines.

Consent for publication

Written informed consent was obtained from the patient for publication of this case report and any accompanying images. A copy of the written consent is available for review by the Editor-in-Chief of this journal.

Competing interests

The authors report no competing interests.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Vaginal Hematoma: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP — By Donna Christiano — Updated on April 24, 2018

What is a vaginal hematoma?

A vaginal hematoma is a collection of blood that pools in the soft tissues of the vagina or vulva, which is the outer part of the vagina. It happens when nearby blood vessels break, usually due to an injury. Blood from these broken vessels can leak into surrounding tissues. You can think of it as a kind of deep bruise.

Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms of a vaginal hematoma and what kind of treatments are available.

In many cases, a small vaginal hematoma won’t cause any symptoms. Larger hematomas may cause:

  • Pain and swelling. You may be able to feel or see a mass covered by purple- or blue-colored skin, similar to a bruise.
  • Painful or difficult urination. If the mass puts pressure on your urethra or blocks your vaginal opening, you might have hard time urinating. This pressure can also make it painful.
  • Bulging tissue. Very large hematomas sometimes extend outside of the vagina.

Vaginal hematomas, like all hematomas, are usually the result of an injury. The vagina contains a lot of blood vessels, especially in comparison to other areas of the body.

Several things can injure the vagina, including:

  • falling
  • vigorous sexual intercourse
  • high-impact sports

This type of hematoma can also happen during vaginal childbirth, either due to pressure from pushing or injuries from medical instruments, including forceps. Having an episiotomy can also cause a vaginal hematoma. This refers to a surgical cut near the vaginal opening to make it easier for a baby to pass through it. Vaginal hematomas caused by childbirth may not show up until a day or two after giving birth.

To diagnose a vaginal hematoma, your doctor will start by doing a basic exam of your vulva and vagina to check for any visible signs of a hematoma. Depending on what they find during the exam, your doctor might also order an ultrasound or CT scan to see how big the hematoma is and whether it’s growing.

Vaginal hematomas can sometimes lead to dangerous bleeding, so it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor, even if the hematoma seems minor.

There are several treatment options for vaginal hematomas, depending on how large they are and whether they’re causing symptoms.

A small hematoma, usually under 5 centimeters in diameter, is usually manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers. You can also apply a cold compress to the area to reduce swelling.

If you have a larger vaginal hematoma, your doctor may need to surgically drain it. To do this, they’ll start by numbing the area with a local anesthetic. Next, they’ll make a small incision in the hematoma and use a small tube to drain the pooled blood. Once the blood is gone, they’ll stitch up the area. You might also be given an antibiotic to prevent an infection.

Very large hematomas, or hematomas located deep in the vagina, may require heavier sedation and more extensive surgery.

Vaginal hematomas are relatively rare. When they do happen, it’s usually the result of an injury or childbirth. The vagina is rich in blood vessels, so any kind of trauma in this area can cause a hematoma. While small ones often heal on their own, larger ones may need to be drained by your doctor. Regardless of the size, it’s best to make an appointment with your doctor to make sure you don’t have any internal bleeding.

Last medically reviewed on April 24, 2018

How we reviewed this article:

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Awoleke JO. (2017). Vulvovaginal infralevator haematoma mimicking the second stage of labour [Abstract]. DOI:
  • Mayo Clinic. (2017). Shock: First aid.
  • Postpartum hemorrhage. (2017).
    clinicalinnovations.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ACOG_Practice_Bulletin_No_183_Postpartum-Hemorrhage-2017. pdf
  • Puerperal genital haematomas. (n.d.).
  • Roman AS, et al. (2017). Management of hematomas incurred as a result of obstetrical delivery.

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Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP — By Donna Christiano — Updated on April 24, 2018

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Medical Bulletin of the North Caucasus :: Scientific and practical journal

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    [Original research] [OB/GYN]
    Novikova Vladislava Alexandrovna; Aseeva Evgenia; Corner Natalia; Khorolsky Vadim Alexandrovich; Filina Karina; Kazibekova F ;

    Bleeding in the postpartum period is a threat to a woman’s life. Vaginal hematomas measuring 10.1 ± 3.6 cm can be asymptomatic at the beginning of their formation, which may cause an underestimation of total blood loss in women with postpartum hemorrhage due to other competing causes. The use of labor anesthesia makes it difficult to timely diagnose postpartum hematomas of the vagina, perineum, or hemostasis defects in the area of ​​suturing after episiotomy or suturing of soft tissue tears in the birth canal. In the present study, 120 women with varicose veins of the lower extremities were examined, mean age 24.2±5.12 years, gestational age at delivery 38.20±1.09weeks. For the purpose of timely diagnosis of postpartum hematomas of the vagina, perineum or hemostasis defects in the area of ​​suturing after episiotomy or suturing of soft tissue ruptures of the birth canal, 2 hours after delivery, women underwent a transperineal ultrasound examination of the vagina, perineum using a PHILLIPS HD-11 ultrasound scanner. Vaginal hematoma was detected in 31 (25.8%) women, and only 10 (8%) had a violation of the integrity of the mucous membrane, in 21 (17%) there was no violation of the integrity of the vaginal mucosa. In no case did the woman present any complaints characteristic of hematoma formation.


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    Key words: postpartum hemorrhage, massive blood loss, vaginal hematomas

    Stavropol State Medical Academy
    State Research Institute of Balneology
    Pyatigorsk State Pharmaceutical Academy

    Consequences of childbirth cephalohematoma in the future – important information for parents – Dobrobut Clinic


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    Publication date: 2020-01-22

    Cephalohematoma in newborns on the head – symptoms, treatment

    A cephalohematoma is a birth injury characterized by the formation of a hematoma. Pathology is diagnosed in 3% of babies, regardless of gender. Cephalhematoma in newborns on the head can be accompanied by various complications: deformation of the bones of the skull, suppuration, anemia and jaundice. Formations come in various sizes and depend primarily on the volume of accumulated blood. Due to the failure of the hemostasis system in the baby’s body, blood can accumulate for several days after childbirth, contributing to an increase in the size of the hematoma.

    Causes of cephalohematoma during childbirth:

    • large fruit;
    • rapid delivery;
    • abnormal position of the fetus;
    • premature or prolonged labor;
    • cord entanglement;
    • discrepancy between the size of the pelvis of the mother and the head of the fetus;
    • pathology of intrauterine development;
    • use during childbirth forceps.

    Classification of cephalohematoma

    As noted above, external cephalohematoma is a hemorrhage between the periosteum and the surface of the bones of the skull, which disappears by the end of the second month of a baby’s life.

    Depending on the location, the hemorrhage can be frontal, occipital, parietal and temporal. According to the severity, cephalohematoma of I degree (hematoma volume 3-4 cm), II (4-9 cm) and III (hemorrhage more than 9 cm) are distinguished. The consequences of a generic cephalohematoma in the future depend on the size of the formation and the general condition of the newborn. Given the localization of the hemorrhage, cephalohematoma can be left-sided, right-sided and bilateral. In some cases, the pathology is accompanied by concomitant injuries in the form of a fracture (crack) of the skull bones.

    Signs of ossified cephalohematoma

    A cephalohematoma occurs within a few hours after the baby is born. The next 2-3 days, the formation increases in size, after which a period of regression begins. Complete resorption of the hematoma occurs by the end of 8 weeks.

    Main symptoms:

    • education has clear boundaries;
    • on day 2-3, the growth of the hematoma stops;
    • the color of the skin in the area of ​​cephalohematoma is unchanged;
    • hematoma soft to the touch;
    • the general condition of the baby is unchanged.

    On our website Dobrobut.com you can make an appointment with a specialist and get an answer to any question. The doctor will tell you about the main signs of ossified cephalohematoma and about the methods of treating the pathology.


    The diagnosis is made after a thorough examination of the baby. Differentiate cephalohematoma from cerebral hernia, birth tumor, coagulopathy, congenital mycoplasmosis and hemorrhage under the aponeurosis will help research: ultrasound, CT, neurosonography and craniogram.

    Treatment of cephalohematoma in a child

    Hemorrhage is treated by a neonatologist or pediatric surgeon. With a small hematoma, special treatment is not necessary. The baby is prescribed calcium and vitamin K preparations for 5-7 days. The course of therapy for uncomplicated pathology is 7–10 days. It will take at least a month to treat a cephalohematoma in a child with complications. A baby with such a pathology must be registered with a surgeon and a neurologist.

    Neonatologists advise the use of Troxerutin to accelerate the healing of the mass. The gel is applied to the hematoma area twice a day. The drug increases vascular tone and prevents further penetration of blood.

    In case of extensive hemorrhage (more than 9 cm in volume), the doctor will prescribe surgery. Puncture of cephalohematoma of the parietal bone is a safe procedure for the health of the baby, the duration of which takes no more than 10 minutes. The child’s skin at the site of hematoma formation is pierced with a special needle, the accumulated blood is sucked off, after which the puncture site is disinfected and a pressure bandage is applied. Surgical removal of cephalohematoma is indicated in the presence of purulent contents of the cavity, as well as in the III degree of development of the pathology.

    Doctor’s recommendations after the puncture:

    • parents must strictly follow the specialist’s instructions;
    • in no case should you self-medicate;
    • protect the newborn’s head from injury;
    • use a cap one size larger;
    • closely monitor the general condition of the baby.

    Consequences and prognosis

    In most cases, the prognosis is favorable. Serious consequences occur in a small percentage of babies due to the displacement of brain structures under the pressure of a hematoma and the accumulation of blood under the periosteum.

    Most severe consequences:

    • infection of the meninges;
    • anemia;
    • compression of the optic (auditory) nerves;
    • suppuration;
    • ossification of cephalohematoma with irreversible deformation of the skull bones.

    If you have any questions, sign up for a consultation by phone or fill out the form on the website.

    Related services:

    Pediatric consultation
    Breastfeeding, its role in a child’s life

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