Internal Injuries in Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle riders are exposed to the elements but are also largely left unprotected if they are in an accident. The injuries that a bike rider can sustain in an accident are wide-ranging from simple scrapes and abrasions to paralysis and brain trauma. Another risk is internal injuries including those to internal organs.
Internal abdominal injuries are one consequence of a bike injury that you risk when colliding with a motor vehicle or when you strike the ground or asphalt. Internal injuries also result when an object penetrates your abdomen. The sections of your abdomen that are subject to injury include:
- Organs such as the spleen, liver, pancreas and kidneys
- Abdominal wall
- Stomach, intestines, colon and uterus
- Blood vessels
Trauma to the abdomen can produce internal bleeding that can be life-threatening. Complications include hematoma rupture, intestinal blockage, and abscesses. Swelling of organs following an accident can increase pressure in the abdomen, causing severe pain, organ damage, and death. To see if you did suffer an internal injury, doctors may order an endoscopy to look into your esophagus or stomach or a colonoscopy to see if bleeding is in your colon.
There are also other types of internal injuries that an injured bicycle rider may sustain:
- Aortic damage
- Collapsed lung
- Bruising and tears to organs
- Intracranial hemorrhaging
- Pelvis fracture leading to massive bleeding from tears to the numerous blood vessels surrounding it
Internal bleeding occurs when a vein or artery is ruptured allowing blood to collect inside the body. How serious or extensive it is, depends on the extent of the trauma and damage to the organ, the blood vessels supplying it and how well your body is able to repair the breaks in the walls of the blood vessels. If you take a blood-thinning or anti-clotting medication, you are likely to have more extensive bleeding
If you are in a bicycle accident, seek prompt medical attention since internal injuries are not as obvious as open and visible wounds and symptoms may not become apparent until hours later. Certain internal injuries will produce immediate symptoms such as severe headaches, fluid or blood draining from the mouth or nose, abdominal pain, dizziness and loss of consciousness. Blood in urine is also a possible indication of internal bleeding.
Other diagnostic tools used to diagnose an internal injury include a CT scan, ultrasound, computerized tomography or angiography if doctors suspect artery damage. You may or may not require surgery depending on the severity of your injuries and blood pressure. You may need intravenous fluids or a blood transfusion if you experience an unsafe drop in blood pressure or if doctors suspect you may experience it.