Anogenital Bruise

Information has been excerpted from VisualDx clinical decision support system as a public health service. Additional information, including symptoms, diagnostic pearls, differential diagnosis, best tests, and management pearls, is available in VisualDx.


Genital bruising may occur following sexual assault or after accidental or self-inflicted trauma. Hematomas occur easily on the vulva and the scrotum due to the loose connective tissue and dependent location. The findings on examination vary with the different mechanisms of injury. Injury to the genital area in children always gives cause for concern. Parents are often worried about permanent damage and are concerned about sexual abuse.

Accidental injuries to the genitalia usually have a clear history, with findings on examination consistent with that history. Straddle injuries are a type of accidental trauma that lead to compression of the soft tissues of the vulva, scrotum, or penis between the object and the pubic ramus, causing bruising, abrasions, and/or lacerations. These injuries are classically asymmetric. If associated lacerations exist, they are most often superficial. Bruising of the soft tissues may be severe, but the hymen is not damaged unless the injury is impaling.

Severe self-inflicted injury is unlikely because of the pain caused by the trauma. Bruising is unusual with self-inflicted injury.

For girls, extensive bruising of the labia, perihymenal tissues, or perineum without any clear history is considered a moderate specificity of abuse. Hymenal ecchymosis should not result from accidental trauma and is highly specific for sexual abuse, with the exception of an impaling injury (eg, from a picket fence), which can cause hymenal injury.

For boys, extensive bruising of the penis, scrotum, perineum, or perianal area without any clear history is considered a moderate specificity of abuse.

Because positive physical findings of sexual abuse occur infrequently, one cannot overemphasize that the history from the child still remains the single most important diagnostic feature in assessing whether a child has been sexually abused.

Look For

Hematomas present with edema and poorly demarcated, nonblanching, violaceous discoloration of the skin.

For girls, findings highly specific for abuse include acute laceration of the hymen (partial or complete) and hymenal ecchymosis.

For boys, bruising can occur on any part of the penis, scrotum, perineum, or perianal area, and the color may vary depending on the stage of resolution it is in.

In comparison, accidental injuries, such as straddle injuries, are typically unilateral and superficial and involve the anterior portion of the genitalia, particularly the labia minora or urethra and not the hymen. Picket fence injuries may produce hymenal trauma.

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