Cullen's sign

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Cullen's sign is blue-black bruising of the area around the umbilicus.

Etymology

It is named for Thomas S. Cullen (1869-1953),[1] who was an obstetrician and first described the sign in ruptured ectopic pregnancy in 1916.[2]

Pathophysiology

This sign takes 24-48 hours to appear and predicts a severe attack of acute pancreatitis, with mortality rising from 8-10% to 40%.

It may be accompanied by Grey-Turner's sign (bruising of the flank).

Diagnosis

Common Causes

Causes include:

Physical Examination

Skin

Importance of the sign is on a decline since better diagnostic modalities are now available

References

  1. synd/1386 at Who Named It
  2. T. S. Cullen. Embryology, anatomy, and diseases of the umbilicus together with diseases of the urachus. Philadelphia, Saunders, and London, 1916.

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