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Definition

What is intracranial hematoma?

An intracranial hematoma is a collection of blood within the skull. The blood collection can be within the brain tissue or underneath the skull, pressing on the brain. An intracranial hematoma is potentially life-threatening.

Intracranial hematomas include:

  • Epidural hematomas, which form between the skull and the outer layer (dura mater) of tissue covering the brain (meninges)
  • Subdural hematomas, which form between the outer layer and the middle layer Intracerebral hematomas, which form within the brain

How common is intracranial hematoma?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of intracranial hematoma?

You might develop signs and symptoms of an intracranial hematoma right after a blow to your head, or they may take weeks or longer to appear. You might seem fine after a head injury, a period called the lucid interval.

However, with time, pressure on your brain increases, producing some or all of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Increasing headache
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness and progressive loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Unequal pupil size
  • Slurred speech

As more blood fills your brain or the narrow space between your brain and skull, other signs and symptoms may become apparent, such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Lose consciousness
  • Have a persistent headache
  • Have difficulties such as vomiting, weakness, blurred vision, unsteadiness

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes intracranial hematoma?

Causes of subdural hematoma

Subdural hematomas are usually caused by bleeding from veins, including the bridging veins, located between the outer and middle layers of tissue covering the brain (meninges). Occasionally, subdural hematomas are caused by bleeding from arteries.

Subdural hematomas may be acute, subacute, or chronic.

  • This most dangerous type is generally caused by a severe head injury, and signs and symptoms usually appear immediately.
  • Signs and symptoms take time to develop, sometimes days or weeks after your injury.
  • The result of less severe head injuries, this type of hematoma can cause slow bleeding, and symptoms can take weeks and even months to appear. You might not recall injuring your head. For example, bumping your head while getting into the car can cause bleeding, especially if you’re on blood-thinning medication.

Causes of epidural hematoma

Epidural hematomas are caused by bleeding from an artery or a large vein (venous sinus) located between the skull and the outer layer of tissue covering the brain. Bleeding often occurs when a skull fracture tears the blood vessel. The most common cause of an epidural hematoma is trauma.

Causes of intraparenchymal hematoma

This type of hematoma, also known as intracerebral hematoma, occurs when blood pools in the brain. There are many causes, including trauma, rupture of an aneurysm, vascular malformation, high blood pressure and tumor. There are also diseases that can cause spontaneous leakage of blood into the brain. A head trauma can result in multiple severe intraparenchymal hematomas.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for intracranial hematoma?

Head injury, often from motor vehicle or bicycle accidents, falls, assaults, and sports injuries, is the most common cause of intracranial bleeding (hemorrhage).

Even mild head trauma can cause a hematoma. You can have a serious injury even if there’s no open wound, bruise or other obvious damage.

The risk of subdural hematoma increases as you age. The risk is also greater for people who:

  • Take aspirin or other blood-thinning medication daily
  • Abuse alcohol

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is intracranial hematoma diagnosed?

Chronic subdural hematomas are more difficult to diagnose because of the length of time between the injury and the development of symptoms. An older person with gradually developing symptoms, such as memory impairment and drowsiness, may be mistakenly thought to have dementia. CT can detect acute, subacute, and many chronic subdural hematomas. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is particularly accurate for diagnosis of chronic subdural hematomas.

How is intracranial hematoma treated?

Hematomas that are small and produce no signs or symptoms don’t need to be removed. But because signs and symptoms can appear or worsen days or weeks after the injury, you might have to be watched for neurological changes, have your intracranial pressure monitored and undergo repeated head CT scans.

If you take blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin, you may need therapy to reverse the effects of the medication and reduce the risk of further bleeding. Options for reversing blood thinners include administering vitamin K and fresh frozen plasma.

Surgery

Hematoma treatment often involves surgery. The type of surgery depends on the type of hematoma you have. Options include:

Surgical drainage. If the blood is localized and isn’t clotting a lot, your doctor might create a burr hole through your skull and use suction to remove the liquid.

Craniotomy. Large hematomas might require that a section of your skull be opened (craniotomy) to remove the blood.

Recovery

Recovery after an intracranial hematoma can take a long time, and you might not recover completely. The greatest period of recovery is up to three months after the injury, usually with lesser improvement after that. If you continue to have neurological problems after treatment, you might need occupational and physical therapy.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage intracranial hematoma?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with intracranial hematoma:

  • Get enough sleep at night, and rest in the daytime when you feel tired.
  • Ease back into your normal activities when you feel stronger.
  • Don’t participate in contact and recreational sports until you get your doctor’s OK.
  • Check with your doctor before you begin driving, playing sports, riding a bicycle or operating heavy machinery. Your reaction times likely will have slowed as a result of your brain injury.
  • Check with your doctor before taking medication.
  • Don’t drink alcohol until you’ve recovered fully. Alcohol may hinder recovery, and drinking too much can increase your risk of a second injury.
  • Write down things you have trouble recalling.
  • Talk with someone you trust before making important decisions.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: October 25, 2017 | Last Modified: October 25, 2017

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