Non-traumatic hemoperitoneum in the ED setting: causes, characteristics, prevalence and sex differences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Prevalence and sex differences of non-traumatic hemoperitoneum in the Emergency Department has not been studied in the literature. Methods: Following IRB approval, multiple keyword searches were used to identify all cases of hemoperitoneum over a 55-month period. Cases were reviewed to confirm and quantify the hemoperitoneum. Maximum attenuation was used to grade blood density. Medical records were reviewed to determine cause, interventions and outcomes in each patient. Results: Of the 171 verified cases of non-traumatic hemoperitoneum, 76% of cases were in women. CT exams in women were positive for hemoperitoneum 0.25% of the time, while 0.13% were positive in men. Regarding size, 25.7% were large, 24.5% were moderate and 49.7% were small. Contrast-enhanced studies had HU values of 103 ± 19 (range 47–146) which were significantly higher than for non-enhanced studies with values of 82 ± 19 (range 43–121, p < 0.001). The most common cause of non-traumatic hemoperitoneum was ruptured ovarian cyst which was found in 58% of women (76 cases). Of these, 69 patients received observation, 6 patients underwent surgery and 1 patient received Vitamin K. For the 95 non-ovarian cyst cases, 65% patients were admitted and then discharged, 22% were discharged from the ED, 12% expired and 1% were transferred to a different hospital. Post-procedure hemorrhage was the second to most common cause in women (24/130 = 18%) and the most common etiology in men (14/41 = 34%). Conclusions: In women, ovarian cyst rupture was the most common etiology of hemoperitoneum. Post-procedure hemorrhage was second in women and the most common etiology in men. Although unusual causes of hemoperitoneum will be encountered, understanding the most common causes of hemoperitoneum can provide a reasonable starting point when attempting to determine the most likely etiology of hemoperitoneum in any individual patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-448
Number of pages8
JournalAbdominal Radiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Emergency department
  • Hemoperitoneum
  • Non-traumatic
  • Ovarian cyst rupture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology


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