Stabler sign: Non-traumatic abdominal skin ecchymosis in the inguinal-pubic area associated with intra-abdominal haemorrhage, originally described in ectopic pregnancy
History of the Stabler Sign
1934 – Francis Edward Stabler published a paper titled ‘A case showing Cullen’s sign‘ concerning a patient presenting with an ectopic pregnancy: with left illiac fossa pain of fourteen days duration and ilioinguinal ‘bruising’, 7 weeks post last menstrual period.
C.S. Aged 34: One inch below and to the left of the umbilicus was a purple, almost black, clearly cut mark 3/4 in. by 1/4 in. shaped like a comma. Below it, about the junction of the upper third and lower two-thirds of the distance from the umbilicus to the pubes, was a ” bruise,” bluish in colour, about 1 in. in diameter, whilst abutting on the inguinal fold was a reddish-purple mark like a fresh bruise, shaped roughly like the ace of clubs, about 2 in. in diameter. The whole was within the triangle formed by the midline and a line drawn to the umbilicus from the middle of the left inguinal ligament. On bimanual examination a soft mass the size of a hen’s egg was evident in the left tubal region.
At operation the distal half of the left Fallopian tube contained an ampullary pregnancy surrounded by blood clot. The tube was not ruptured, but a little dark blood was oozing from the abdominal ostium. In the peritoneal cavity there were not more than 3 or 4oz (88-118mL) of dark fluid blood…incision into the subcutaneous fatty tissue proved the stains to be true ecchymoses.
It is an interesting speculation as to how the blood reaches the subcutaneous tissues. In the present reported case I forecast that there would be an intraligamentary rupture of the tube with a broad ligament haematoma from which blood had tracked up extraperitoneally as far as the umbilicus, possibly following the obliterated hypogastric artery by which the lateral spread of the discoloration was limited.
Initially described as an inguinal-pubic extension of the peri-umbilical ecchymosis of Cullen sign. Further cases of bruising to the inguinal-pubic area reported with AAA rupture and acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis
Although rare, this sign has most commonly been identified in neonates secondary to adrenal hemorrhage. This is associated with obstetric injury, perinatal hypoxia, and sepsis [Urology 2002]. Rarely, it may be due to ruptured neuroblastoma.
- John Henry Bryant and Bryant sign (1903)
- Thomas Stephen Cullen and Cullen sign (1918)
- George Grey Turner and Grey Turner sign (1919)
- Francis Edward Stabler and Stabler Sign (1934)
- John Adrian Fox and Fox sign (1966)
- Stabler F. A case showing Cullen’s sign. Br Med J. 1934;2(3840):255-256.
Eponymous term reviews
- Raveenthiran V, Cenita S, Viswanathan P. Stabler’s sign revisited in a spontaneously ruptured neuroblastoma of the newborn. Am J Perinatol. 2008; 25(1): 17-20.
- Cadogan M. Atraumatic Abdominal Ecchymosis. LITFL 2020
the names behind the name
Associate Professor Curtin Medical School, Curtin University. Emergency physician MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |