Emergency Radiology

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 35–43 | Cite as

The Morel-Lavallée lesion: pathophysiology, clinical presentation, imaging features, and treatment options

  • Iris Bonilla-Yoon
  • Sulabha Masih
  • Dakshesh B. Patel
  • Eric A. White
  • Benjamin D. Levine
  • Kira Chow
  • Christopher J. Gottsegen
  • George R. MatcukJr.Email author
Review Article


Morel-Lavallée lesions are posttraumatic hemolymphatic collections related to shearing injury and disruption of interfascial planes between subcutaneous soft tissue and muscle. We review the pathophysiology of Morel-Lavallée lesions, clinical presentation, and potential sites of involvement. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the modality of choice for characterization. We present the MRI classification and highlight the key imaging features that distinguish the different types, focusing on the three most common: seroma, subacute hematoma, and chronic organizing hematoma. Potential mimics of Morel-Lavallée lesions, such as soft tissue sarcoma and hemorrhagic prepatellar bursitis, are compared and contrasted. Treatment options and a management algorithm are also briefly discussed.


Morel-Lavallée lesion Closed degloving injury Trauma 



We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Matthew R. Skalski, D.C. for his work in producing the illustrations for Figs. 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Am Soc Emergency Radiol 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iris Bonilla-Yoon
    • 1
  • Sulabha Masih
    • 2
  • Dakshesh B. Patel
    • 3
  • Eric A. White
    • 3
  • Benjamin D. Levine
    • 1
  • Kira Chow
    • 2
  • Christopher J. Gottsegen
    • 3
  • George R. MatcukJr.
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Radiology, David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Radiology, Greater Los Angeles Veterans AdministrationUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Radiology, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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