Is a Subdural Hematoma?
hematoma occurs when blood collects on your brain’s surface beneath
the skull. Subdural hematomas can be life-threatening. They usually result from
a head injury.
Subdural hematomas are either acute or chronic. Acute
subdural hematomas commonly form because of a severe head injury.
Chronic subdural hematomas develop due to a minor head
injury. A blood clot on the surface of the brain is also called a subdural hematoma.
Approximately 20 to 30 percent of people
regain full or partial brain function after having a subdural hematoma.
How Do Subdural Hematomas Form?
A subdural hematoma occurs when a vein ruptures between your
skull and your brain’s surface. If you sustain a major brain injury, this area
can fill with blood and cause life-threatening symptoms. This is called an
acute subdural hematoma. It’s the most dangerous type of subdural hematoma.
Acute subdural hematomas are usually caused by:
- a car accident
- a blow to the head
Acute subdural hematomas form quickly, and the symptoms
Chronic subdural hematomas are usually caused by mild or
repeated head injuries. These are common in older adults who repeatedly fall and
hit their heads.
The higher rate of this condition in older adults may also
be because the brain shrinks as people age. This causes extra space in the
skull, allowing the veins to be more easily damaged during a head injury. Symptoms
of chronic subdural hematomas aren’t noticeable immediately and may not appear
for several weeks.
Chronic subdural hematomas are easier to treat than acute
subdural hematomas. However, they can still cause life-threatening
complications. Some chronic subdural hematomas occur with no apparent cause.
Are the Symptoms of a Subdural Hematoma?
Acute subdural hematomas cause symptoms right away. However,
people with chronic subdural hematomas may have no symptoms at all.
Common symptoms of a subdural hematoma are:
- slurred speech
- loss of consciousness or coma
- severe headaches
- visual problems
You should go to the doctor right away if you have any of
these symptoms. These symptoms are also signs of other very serious health
conditions. Symptoms of chronic subdural hematoma can be similar to the
symptoms of dementia, stroke, tumors, or other problems in the brain.
Is a Subdural Hematoma Diagnosed?
A subdural hematoma can be diagnosed using imaging tests,
such as a CT or MRI scan. These scans provide your doctor with an in-depth look
- other blood vessels
These scans can also reveal if there’s any blood on your
Your doctor may also order a blood test to check your
complete blood count. A complete blood
count test measures your red blood cell count, white blood cell
count, and platelet count. A low level of red blood cells can indicate
significant blood loss.
Your doctor may also give you a physical examination to
check your heart rate and blood pressure for evidence of internal bleeding.
What Are the Treatment Options for a Subdural Hematoma?
An acute subdural hematoma can only be treated in an
A surgical procedure called a craniotomy may be used to remove a large subdural hematoma.
It’s normally used to treat acute subdural hematomas. In this procedure, your
surgeon removes a part of your skull in order to remove the clot or hematoma.
They use suction and irrigation to remove the hematoma.
A burr hole can
also be used to drain smaller hematomas. First, your surgeon creates small
holes in your skull and then places rubber tubes in them. The blood from the
hematoma drains out through these holes.
Your doctor may prescribe anti-seizure medications to treat
or prevent seizures that might be caused by the subdural hematoma. Medication
may also be used to treat your brain injury. Corticosteroids are often
prescribed to reduce inflammation in the brain.
of Subdural Hematoma
Complications of subdural hematomas may occur soon after the
injury or sometime after the injury has been treated.
These complications may include:
- brain herniation, which puts pressure on your brain
and can cause a coma or death
- permanent muscle weakness or numbness
The extent of complications depends on the severity of your brain
to 90 percent of people who develop acute subdural hematomas die from the
condition or its complications. Seizures can still occur even after you recover
from a subdural hematoma and it has been removed.
Your outlook for recovery depends on the type of brain
injury you have and where it’s located. Your doctor will create a treatment and
recovery plan that’s best for you.