Cullen's sign

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Cullen's sign
Cullen's sign

Cullen's sign is superficial bruising around the umbilicus, seen in acute pancreatitis and a ruptured ]]ectopic pregnancy]].[1]

This sign takes 24–48 hours to appear and can predict acute pancreatitis, with mortality rising from 8–10% to 40%. It may be accompanied by Grey Turner's sign[2] (bruising of the flank), which may then be indicative of pancreatic necrosis with retroperitoneal or intra-abdominal bleeding.

It is named for gynecologist Thomas Stephen Cullen (1869–1953),[3] who first described the sign in ruptured ectopic pregnancy in 1916.[4]


Causes include:

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


  1. Madke, Bhushan; Nayak, Chitra (September 2012). "Eponymous signs in dermatology". Indian Dermatology Online Journal. 3 (3): 159. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.101810. ISSN 2229-5178. Archived from the original on 2023-02-08. Retrieved 2023-06-03.
  2. Bosmann M, Schreiner O, Galle PR (April 2009). "Coexistence of Cullen's and Grey Turner's signs in acute pancreatitis". Am. J. Med. 122 (4): 333–4. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2008.08.032. PMID 19332225.
  3. synd/1386 at Who Named It?
  4. 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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