Medico-legal considerations for Morel-Lavallée lesions

  • Quentin ScanvionEmail author
  • Erwan Le Garff
  • Didier Gosset
  • Valéry Hédouin
  • Vadim Mesli
Case Report


The Morel-Lavallée lesion is an infrequent traumatic lesion that the forensic physician may need to evaluate during examination of a victim. Using a review of the literature and an illustrative case, the objective of this paper is to discuss the medico-legal issues (accountability, functional recovery and healing times, and aftermath) associated with Morel-Lavallée lesions. We describe the case of a 24-year-old motorcycle driver who was hit by a car. Clinically, the right lumbar region had a large 16 × 15 cm ecchymosis with subcutaneous fluid swelling found by palpation. A body scan revealed a Morel-Lavallée lesion among other lesions. On day 7, its thickness was decreased by half. Morel-Lavallée lesions are specifically induced by shearing force with moderate-to-high kinetics in an anatomical area with an underlying fascia. The associated functional disability is globally moderate, but a large lesion or recurrences can extend the time needed to recover. Apart from some exceptions, care without any delay in diagnosis and treatment allows evolution of the lesion without functional consequences, but these lesions are frequently unnoticed in the initial phase.


Morel-Lavallée Forensic medicine Subcutaneous tissue lesion Accidents 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Approval by Ethical Committee is not required for case reports as single case descriptions do not fulfil the criteria of research as defined by the Human Research Act. Patient information has been withheld to protect patient anonymity.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CHU Lille, Institut de Médecine Légale, EA 7367 UTML - Unité de Taphonomie Médico-LégaleUniversity of LilleLilleFrance

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