Subdural Hematoma

A subdural hematoma is a type of intracranial hematoma (blood clot or clots) that often results from a head injury.

Causes

A subdural hematoma occurs when a blood clot forms underneath the skull and underneath the dura (the tough covering that surrounds the brain) but outside of the brain. These can form from a tear in the veins that go from the brain to the dura, or from a cut on the brain itself. They are sometimes, but not always, associated with a skull fracture.

Symptoms

The person may have varying degrees of symptoms associated with the severity of the head injury. The following are the most common symptoms of a head injury. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. With this type of moderate to severe head injury, immediate medical attention is required. Symptoms may include:

  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness
  • blurred vision
  • severe headache
  • vomiting
  • loss of short-term memory, such as difficulty remembering the events that lead right up to and through the traumatic event
  • slurred speech
  • difficult walking
  • dizziness
  • weakness in one side or area of the body
  • sweating
  • pale skin color
  • seizures
  • behavior changes including irritability
  • blood or clear fluid draining from the ears or nose
  • one pupil (dark area in the center of the eye) looks larger than the other eye
  • deep cut or laceration in the scalp
  • open wound in the head
  • foreign object penetrating the head

The symptoms of a head injury may resemble other problems or medical conditions. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatment is individualized, depending on the extent of the condition and the presence of other injuries. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment may include:

  • Observation
  • Immediate medical attention
  • Stitches
  • Hospitalization for observation
  • Surgery to remove the blood clot

Head injury may cause the brain to swell. Since the brain is covered by the skull, there is only a small amount of room for it to swell. This causes pressure inside the skull to increase, which can lead to brain damage. If the patient has a severe head injury, he/she may require monitoring for increased intracranial pressure (ICP) (pressure inside the skull).

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