What should I name my leg dent?
September 19, 2010 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Is there a name for a dent in one's body after a bruise?

I was in a car accident in April. My shin and knee on the same leg were bruised very badly, however, the doctor I saw only addressed my neck/back. Two months later, I was still having issues with the knee and got it MRI'd and they found that I probably bruised the bone. I never had the shin imaged or looked at because it stopped hurting once the swelling went down. However, there is still a noticeable dark mark and an actual dent in my leg where the bruise was (is?).
I was curious about this indentation and wondered if there is a name for this phenomenon. When I google, I find tons of stuff about how other people have had this happen, and anecdotes about how they got their "body dent," but no medical information or terminology.
I do plan on seeing a doctor to have it checked out just in case (especially since I'm working on settling my medical claim against the intoxicated driver who hit me, and if this will trouble me later in life, I want to know), but I'm really just curious about it as a medical phenomenon, since it seems weird to have a dent in your body where you didn't break anything.

Long story short: is there a name for this phenomenon? It seems to be common enough, so I'm not worried about it being some freak thing, I really just find it interesting and want to read more about it other than a thousand stories of how other people got dented, which is all I'm finding so far.
posted by elpea to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Try "Pitting edema."
posted by hermitosis at 3:31 PM on September 19, 2010

(Not that I am anything resembling a doctor, so I don't know if this is happening in your case. But you asked for body dents...)
posted by hermitosis at 3:34 PM on September 19, 2010

Best answer: Elpea, I have one from racing sailboats - I actually ended up with fluid cyst on my shin on top of a bone bruise. After the cyst was drained (11 years ago), I was left with a dent that's still there. I believe my orthopedist called it a "contusion" which seems to be what they call any severity of bruising.

It's fairly harmless, although I've noticed that the specific area of my shin is still kind of sensitive.
posted by lyra4 at 3:35 PM on September 19, 2010

Hermitosis, I'd be inclined to agree with you, but I just can't believe the OP would still be experiencing pitting edema 5 months after the injury. The dark mark is interesting, to.

Elpea, is it possible to post a pic?
posted by pecanpies at 4:01 PM on September 19, 2010

IANAD, but have you looked up myositis ossificans? That's what my doc called the calcified muscle I had when I broke/bruised bones in my legs about a dozen years ago. None of them were terribly dent-like though, but rather raised.
posted by The Potate at 4:07 PM on September 19, 2010

Best answer: It sounds like an area that has atrophied. So: atrophy, then.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:10 PM on September 19, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I thought I just sucked at googling and there was an obvious answer, but I'm kind of relieved to know that it could be any number of things, so it's not me being a dummy. I can't take a picture because my camera isn't working, but thanks for being willing to look.

Lyra4's answer seems most likely, because that's basically the same thing as I had (most likely). My knee was MRI'd and it was a bone bruise that they said there was still some fluid on, so that's probably what was going on with my shin, too.
posted by elpea at 4:36 PM on September 19, 2010

Best answer: I had this same thing happen after badly bruising my ankle in a fall: massive swelling, followed by a dark mark (mostly gone now, after about a decade) and a visible dent, plus some lost sensation in the area. When I've spoken about it with doctors, they've generally just called it atrophy, as SLC Mom said.
posted by Bardolph at 4:59 PM on September 19, 2010

Oh wow. Great question. I developed a dent like this after I suffered a huge bruise in a fall this summer. I never imagined that it had a name, though. My theory has been that because the flesh there was basically crushed, as it healed, my body just...took it away. Is there a name for that specific process in the body?
posted by limeonaire at 5:11 PM on September 19, 2010

Similarly, I had a giant-celled tumor of the tendon sheath in the tip of my index finger removed a few years ago. The tumor so compressed the tissue around it that when the bandage was first taken off a week later, my finger was nearly flat... not much thicker than a credit card. (Yes, it grossed me out.) It's never quite gone back to being as round as my other fingers, and it's slightly misshapen on one side... I guess you could call it a dent. Back when it was still pretty flat, the doctor said he could eventually inject some silicone there if it remained that flat, but I declined since I thought that'd just be another uncomfortable bump inside my finger, just like the tumor had been. It eventually plumped up a little more to where it is today.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:56 PM on September 19, 2010

Might not be helpful, since it sounds like you don't just want anecdotes, but I asked a similar question a few months back.

I haven't been able to find a specific name for it, either.
posted by Alt F4 at 8:41 PM on September 19, 2010

A contusion is just a fancy doctor's term that means bruise. The dent you have after an injury would probably be more accurately called localized atrophy of the subcutaneous tissue/fatty tissue in that area or 'lipoatrophy'.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:55 PM on September 19, 2010

I sense both from your question and from the answers here that there isn't going to be a single response that will be right in all circumstances. Partly that's due to the generality of the question: the term indentation ought to suffice in all circumstances, but it's not tissue-specific. Because if you get anatomically pedantic, every sort of injury that results in an indentation will have its own specific term. And in your case it might be three distinct phenomena occurring affecting the skin, subcutaneous soft tissue and the bone. Indentation (or 'dent') is about all there is, although pitting or pit (without oedema) is virtually the same in a descriptive sense.
posted by peacay at 12:37 AM on September 20, 2010

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