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July 1961

Discolorations of Flanks and Abdominal Wall: Nontraumatic Ecchymotic Manifestations

Author Affiliations


Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.; From the Department of Medicine of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and the Medical Service of the Strong Memorial Hospital.

Arch Intern Med. 1961;108(1):132-135. doi:10.1001/archinte.1961.03620070134018

In 1920 Mr. Gilbert Grey Turner, a British surgeon, described the ecchymotic discoloration of the flanks and abdominal wall which may be associated with acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis.1,2 This bruised, bluish or greenish appearance of the skin is thought to be due to extraperitoneal extravasation of hemorrhagic fluid from the inflammatory process. The sign bears its discoverer's name when it appears on the flanks and is a late and not particularly common manifestation of pancreatic necrosis and inflammation. Our interest in ecchymotic areas of the flanks and abdominal wall was first stimulated by the following patient.

Case 1.—  A 42-year-old housewife was admitted to the Strong Memorial Hospital in 1955 with a 3-day history of severe abdominal pain.3 A greenish-brown discoloration of the skin of both flanks and the lower abdomen appeared on the second hospital day (Figs. 1 and 2). This typical Grey Turner sign, in addition to