A 20-year-old male collegiate football athlete reported a remarkably swollen elbow after direct contact with the ground. Initial radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging were negative for a fracture and soft tissue structural damage. After 2 weeks of conservative treatment, the athlete had no decrease in swelling and associated symptoms. He was diagnosed with a Morel-Lavallée lesion, later confirmed by diagnostic ultrasound imaging. The lesion was initially treated with compression therapy and cryotherapy to reduce swelling. Upon the final diagnosis the lesion was eventually incised, drained, and packed with iodoform sterile strips. It is hypothesized that many minor Morel-Lavallée cases are under- or misdiagnosed due to overlapping of signs and symptoms with other soft tissue traumas common in athletic populations. The procedures of this case can be utilized to optimize outcomes in future cases. While rare, Morel-Lavallée lesions can occur in athletic activities involving the upper extremity, and not solely crush injuries or traumatic and high-intensity accidents. This knowledge, along with the presented signs and symptoms, can give future healthcare professionals knowledge to include this diagnosis in their working differential diagnosis of injuries with similar presentations.
Southall is with the Department of Kinesiology, Samford University, Birmingham, AL. Price is with the Department of Athletics, Samford University, Birmingham, AL. Wisler is with the Department of Athletics, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR.
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