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Vascular Surgery

vein bursting in ankle & bleeding externally

04/18/2006

Question:

My father-in-law woke up bleeding from his ankle in the middle of the night. There was not an injury, like a cut or scrape, that we could see. He is 85 years old. Is this normal? Is it possible that he could have bleed to death if someone had not awakened him? Both the bed and his pajama pants were soaked when he was awakened. I have never heard of it before and am very concerned. He lives in Mexico and the ambulance attendants came to the sight and told him that he was fine, but how can one be fine if bleeding from the ankle?

Answer:

This can occur if he scratched at a scab overlying a superficial vein. It can appear to be a lot of blood, but is not something that will cause him to bleed to death. The pressure is so low in the venous system, that just putting compression (with a bandage or hand) on the area of bleeding is enough to get it to stop.

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Response by:

Amy B Reed, MD Amy B Reed, MD
No longer associated