Ten-year incidence and treatment outcomes of closed degloving injuries (Morel-Lavallee lesions) in a level 1 trauma centre

Heather K. Moriarty, Ee-Jun Ban, Richard N. Schlegel, Gerard S. Goh, Joseph K. Matthew, Warren Clements

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Morel-Lavallée lesions (MLL), also referred to as closed degloving injuries, result from traumatic shearing forces with separation of the subcutaneous fat from the underlying fascia. The aim of this study was to determine the incidence and treatment of MLLs at a level 1 trauma centre. Methods: Single-centre retrospective cross-sectional study of consecutive patients with an imaging diagnosis of a Morel-Lavallee lesion from 1/1/2010–31/12/2019. Demographic data, mechanism of injury, volume of lesion, management and outcome data were collated. Results: Sixty-six MLLs were identified in 63 patients (64% Male) with a median age of 49.5 years (19–94 years). Mechanism of injury were road traffic accidents in the majority (66%). Median injury severity score (ISS) was 17 (range 1–33). Patients on oral anti-coagulants had significantly larger lesions (181.9 cc v 445.5 cc, P = 0.044). The most common lesion location was the thigh (60.5%). Patients that underwent imaging within 72 h of injury had significantly larger lesions than those imaged more than 72 h after the inciting trauma (65 cc v 167 cc, P < 0.05). Management data were documented in 59% of lesions (39/66) in which 66.6% (n = 26) had invasive treatment. In the 31 patients where follow-up was available, 64.5% (n = 20) were persistent but decreasing in size. There was no significant difference in follow-up size for those who had invasive compared to conservative treatment (P = 0.3). Conclusion: The diagnosis of MLL should be considered for soft-tissue swelling in the context of shearing trauma. A variety of management options have been employed, with good overall outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-266
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • closed degloving injuries
  • Morel-Lavallee lesions
  • traumatic shearing force

Cite this