Subdural Hematoma

A hematoma is a collection of blood. A subdural hematoma develops in the space between the covering of brain (the dura) and the inside of the skull. This pool of blood can put pressure on the brain and cause a range of symptoms.

  • Causes

    A subdural hematoma is most often caused by a head injury. The injury may be caused by traumas such as falls, car accidents, or physical abuse. It can also occur spontaneously.

    Head Injury
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  • Definition

    A hematoma is a collection of blood. A subdural hematoma develops in the space between the covering of brain (the dura) and the inside of the skull. This pool of blood can put pressure on the brain and cause a range of symptoms.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may also be referred to a specialist for additional testing.

    Imaging tests evaluate the brain and surrounding structures. This can be done with:

    • CT scan
    • MRI scan

    Your brain function may be assessed. This can be done with:

    • Neurological examination
    • Electroencephalogram EEG—to measure your brain's electrical activity
    • Neuropsychological testing

    Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of head injury, take these steps:

    • Wear proper helmets when playing sports and riding a bike or motorcycle.
    • Use a seat belt while traveling in car.
    • Reduce the risk of a fall or injury. Safeguard your home and workplace.
    • Have regular blood tests if you are taking blood thinning medication.

    • Limit your alcohol intake to a moderate level. This means:

      • Two or fewer drinks per day for men
      • One or fewer drinks per day for women

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk of a subdural hematoma include:

    • Increased age—greater risk of falls and weaker blood vessels
    • Playing high-impact sports
    • Taking blood thinning medication

    • Having
      atrial fibrillation

    • Having a history of
      heart attack
    • Abusing alcohol
      or
      drugs

  • Symptoms

    The blood may pool quickly or take some time to build up. This will affect how fast symptoms develop. The subdural hematoma may be:

    • Acute—symptoms appear soon after the injury
    • Subacute—symptoms appear a few days after the injury
    • Chronic—bleeding is slower and symptoms only appear weeks after the injury

    After a head injury, a subdural hematoma may cause the following symptoms:

    • Loss of consciousness
    • Bruising around the head or eyes
    • Headache
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Personality changes
    • Limb weakness
    • Fatigue/sleepiness
    • Confusion
    • Speech difficulties
    • Vision problems

    Seek medical care right away if you have any of these symptoms after a head injury.

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment will depend on the size and severity of the hematoma. It will also be based on your specific symptoms.

    Treatment options include the following: