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Paul M. D'Amore

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Subdural Hematoma - Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Subdural hematoma are blood clots or collections of blood between the surface of your brain and your skull. They can be very dangerous, with deadly consequences if you do not receive prompt medical attention.

What is a Subdural Hematoma?

There are different types of bleeding in the head. One type is a subdural hematoma, which is a collection of blood between your brain and your skull caused by a torn blood vessel below a protective membrane on the brain. 

Other names for a subdural hematoma include a subdural hemorrhage or an intracranial hematoma.

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What is the difference between Subdural v.s. Epidural Hematoma?

The brain has three different layers of meninges that protect it. The inner layer is the pia mater; the middle is the arachnoid; and the outer is called the dura mater. Epidural hematoma occur between your skull and the dura mater. A subdural hematoma occurs between the dura mater and the arachnoid layer, still beneath the skull.

Subdural hematoma are more common than epidural hematoma, and they are also more deadly.

What are the types of Subdural Hematoma?

There are two different types of subdural hematoma: acute subdural hematoma and chronic subdural hematoma. 

Acute subdural hematoma: The more serious condition that forms quickly from a sustained brain trauma. Symptoms appear quickly as well — within minutes to hours. If medical assistance is not given immediately, then you can lose consciousness and die. The mortality rate for an acute subdural hematoma is 50% to 90% mortality as a result of the pressure on the brain.

Chronic subdural hematoma: Generally not as severe as acute subdural hematoma. They are caused by minor head trauma or injuries. The onset of symptoms is not immediate. Rather, symptoms might not appear for weeks, and the symptoms might be slowly evolving, so much that they are not noticeable.

What are the causes of Subdural Hematoma?

A subdural hematoma is usually caused by some type of head trauma or injury. A vessel or vein tears on the surface of your brain and blood starts to collect on the surface. Alternatively, the collection of blood can be a blood clot. 

Common causes are car accidents, trauma to the head, or a fall. 

What Can You Expect After a Closed Head Injury?

Symptoms of a subdural hematoma are like the symptoms of a stroke, brain tumor, or other issues in the brain. They include:

  • • Headaches, which can be severe
  • • Drowsiness
  • • Slurred speech
  • • Loss of movement on one side of your body
  • • Numbness
  • • Weakness
  • • Seizures
  • • Vision problems or changes
  • • Confusion
  • • Changes in mood or personality
  • • Nausea
  • • Vomiting 
  • • Loss of consciousness
  • • Coma
  • • Paralysis
  • • Breathing problems

If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms, you should find the nearest doctor or hospital emergency department as these symptoms can mean you could have a serious brain injury.

What are the risk factors of a Subdural Hematoma?

Risk factors for a subdural hematoma vary. If the subdural hematoma is acute, the most common risk factor is people who have had a significant brain injury. 

Other risk factors include the following:

  • Elderly adults: The brain shrinks as you get older and the blood vessels in the membrane between the brain and skull start to stretch. These blood vessels are therefore more brittle and can break easier.
  • People taking blood-thinning medication: If you take blood thinners for heart valve or circulation issues, then your blood is slower to clot. Because the blood does not coagulate, any tear in a blood vessel in the head will continue to bleed out.
  • Heavy drinkers or those who misuse alcohol: Many people who drink excessively have damaged or subpar liver function. The liver produces the protein that coagulates blood. If the liver cannot produce this protein, then the tear in the blood vessel will continue to have blood pool out.

How is Subdural Hematoma Diagnosed?

Subdural hematoma are diagnosed with CT or MRI scans ordered by your doctor. If your doctor suspects you have a head injury or you inform your doctor about a recent head injury, one or both of these scans will most likely be ordered. 

An MRI is the better machine to diagnose a subdural hematoma. However, a subdural hematoma CT scan is cheaper and more readily available.

With these scans, your doctor will examine your brain, skull, and veins in your head. They will be able to see if blood collected between your skull and brain, meaning that a subdural hematoma developed. 

A blood test can also be ordered. If you have low red blood cell levels, the loss of blood suggests bleeding somewhere. Similarly, low blood pressure would suggest a loss of blood.

What kind of Subdural Hematoma Treatments Exist?

Subdural hematoma can be life-threatening. The recovery outlook is on a person-by-person basis and depends on different variables. Sometimes subdural hematoma do not have many symptoms and are minor, so no surgical intervention is needed. Your doctor will instead monitor the situation and have you come back for repeat scans. The hematoma will heal on its own and your body will absorb the bleed on its own over time.

However, other times symptoms are severe, and too much blood can pool out. If this happens, pressure on your brain will increase. If this occurs, surgical intervention will probably be needed. If the pressure on the brain continues, death can result. Two surgical interventions are:

  1. Craniotomy: In some chronic subdural hematoma and most acute subdural hematoma, surgery is usually the only viable treatment. A subdural hematoma craniotomy is performed where a part of the skull is removed. The surgeon then suctions the blood clot out.
  2. Burr hole: Another treatment option is a Burr hole. If the blood clot is less than 1 centimeter, then a procedure is performed where a small hole is drilled into the skull. Rubber tubes are placed in the hole and blood from the clot is then drained out.

Lastly, seizure medication is commonly prescribed for subdural hematoma patients as subdural hematoma often cause seizures in patients.

Our Experienced Attorneys Can Help

D'Amore Personal Injury Law, LLC. is an award-winning law firm with decades of experience in fighting for their clients' rights. If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury, you may be entitled to compensation. We believe that if someone wronged you or your loved one, they should be held accountable for their negligence.


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Subdural Hematoma - Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Subdural hematoma are blood clots or collections of blood between the surface of your brain and your skull. They can be very dangerous, with deadly consequences if you do not receive prompt medical attention.

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