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Sassee
04-05-2008, 01:57 AM
Question -

My character obtains a really serious injury to her side, that soft area between hips and ribs. Her arm and shoulder are also injured. She's bleeding profusely.

What I need to know is:

1) Is there a major artery over there she needs to be worried about?
2) What organs might be damaged, and what are the possible short-term consequences?
3) How long until she would feel light-headed and/or pass out?
4) What are some other symptoms of extreme blood loss she might experience?

(If it matters, it's not a stab wound or gunshot wound. Technically she was bitten there by a werewolf who intended on causing serious injury / inflicting pain rather than doing the quick-kill-via-bite-to-throat sort of thing. She doesn't die from this injury because of extenuating circumstances - I so totally misspelled that - but I'd like to have this be as realistic as possible for that one scene.)

Thanks in advance!

<3

Sarpedon
04-05-2008, 02:13 AM
Well, the major arteries run down parallel to the spinal column near the back of the body cavity. If these are broken, unconciousness is nearly immediate, death will be swift.

The major organs in the abdomen are the large and small intestines, liver, stomach, kidneys, pancreas. If she's hurt in the side, then its quite possible that it may damage the liver, the kidneys, or the intestines, rather than the stomach or pancreas.

I believe the liver is mostly on the right side. It is highly important; you cannot live without your liver. however, it is capable of regenerating itself more than other organs. It also is filled with blood vessels, and will bleed heavily.

The intestines are less crucial; people routinely get parts or all of their intestines removed. However, rupture of one or the other can cause the contamination of the body cavity with the contents of the digestive tract, causing a usually fatal septicema.

Damage to one of the kidneys is not necessarily fatal, as everyone has two, BUT they have big arteries going through them, so bleeding will be very heavy. They are also extraordinarly painful things to get injured in; punching someone in the kidney is a common tactic in a fight. They are behind the other organs.

If you want her to survive for any length of time...have her get stabbed in the leg.
With modern medicine, any of these conditions may be treated successfully. However they can all still be fatal.

As far as effects of blood loss, that depends on the rate of bleeding, how big she is, and her general physical condition. Bleeding will cause a loss of blood pressure, so there will be tingling in the extremities, and exertion will be difficult.

kullervo
04-05-2008, 02:14 AM
It all depends on the depth of the wound. There's nothing on your sides that will cause massive blood loss until you get through the musculature. The big important vessels are kept far inside (go, evolution!). Once you do get inside, you can get into the intestines and the mesentery. The liver and spleen are usually pretty safe up under the rib cage on the right and left, respectively.

As far as blood loss goes, a lot of the effect is going to be psychological. I'm a blood donor, and even though I'm small and have low blood pressure and a slow pulse, I feel fine after I've given away a unit. Other folks have a harder time with it, and blood given to a werewolf involuntarily would be very bad! Under those circumstances any blood could make you woozy. I could probably lose a unit and a half before I felt it, and two before I needed an urgent lie-down. So there is a difference between hypovolemic shock and psychogenic shock, but both are real and have similar effect on a victim's reactions (ability to flee said werewolf, for example).

Pain also causes lightheadedness, via the action of the vagus nerve. In the presence of pain, this nerve can slow breathing, slow the heart, and cause sweating and vomiting. See vasovagal syncope:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasovagal_syncope

Sarpedon
04-05-2008, 02:17 AM
ooh, I forgot about that pesky spleen. Thanks kullervo. Though isnt' the liver too big to hide in the ribcage? Its the biggest internal organ.

ColoradoGuy
04-05-2008, 02:19 AM
This question comes up a lot. Here's a previous thread about it.
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1252583&highlight=blood#post1252583

As other's have said, there are no major vessels in the area you're describing.

kullervo
04-05-2008, 03:54 AM
ooh, I forgot about that pesky spleen. Thanks kullervo. Though isnt' the liver too big to hide in the ribcage? Its the biggest internal organ.

The liver should ordinarily not be palpable below the line of the ribcage. You can dig in there and poke it, but it's not recommended because of ow.

HeronW
04-05-2008, 04:11 AM
>injury between hips and ribs. Her arm and shoulder are also injured. She's bleeding profusely.

1) Is there a major artery over there she needs to be worried about?

Descending aorta left of spine going from heart to pelvis where it splits to feed the legs is over an inch wide, if that is cut she's going to bleed to death in 2 minutes or less.

2) What organs might be damaged, and what are the possible short-term consequences?

See above, and if that major artery is missed, then you have the lung punctured--abve the diaphragm, below is the liver, stomach, pancreas, small and large intestine, and kidneys in the back.

3) How long until she would feel light-headed and/or pass out?

From immediately to several minutes depends on the blood loss & pain.

4) What are some other symptoms of extreme blood loss she might experience?

Shock will make you feel cold on a 95f degree day, you'd also feel thirsty, headache from low blood pressure. Vision would blur from lack of blood, possible seeing things, and that dratted pain again :}

None of this would last long because massive blood loss will cause fainting then death when the heart/brain don't get the oxygen they need.

Abdominal wounds are considered 'dirty' because once you perforate the intestines, everything comes out into the open--partially digested food turning into feces which is toxic and will kill by sepsis over the course of a few weeks.

http://catalog.nucleusinc.com/generateexhibit.php?ID=718

This can help you with location and organs

Tsu Dho Nimh
04-05-2008, 09:37 PM
She'd have a fair amount of bleeding just from the small stuff in the skin and fatty layers, maybe the muscles.

One thing about bleeding: unless the werewolf has anticoagulant saliva, it's going to stop pretty soon.

Another thing: a very small amount of blood, when it's yours, especially when it's dripping down your side and you are in pain, looks like a lot more than it is. A couple hundred milliliters es enough to soak your clothing on that side, but it's not life threatening.

Fenika
04-06-2008, 11:51 PM
Just FYI, you have to loose a big chunk of the liver before you loose function- and you'd bleed out first if someone did a messy job of pulling out part of your liver. A few rips and pokes won't make it bat an eye. Add an infection or something though and you've got a problem...

My alimentary final is this week, weeeeeeeeee... urgh...

Fenika
04-06-2008, 11:57 PM
Oh, as an aside, someone mentioned the diaphragm. If she gets a minor tear in that, she would be generally fine (other injuries aside) and then later (when the Liver/stomach/intestines/whatever herniated into the thoracic cavity) find herself gasping for breath and/or unable to breathe. This can be a couple hours later, especially if she lays down.

StephanieFox
04-07-2008, 12:04 AM
Severe blood loss can cause heart attacks.