April 13, 2009

Subdural Hematoma: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Posted in Category : Hematoma

Subdural hematoma is a kind of head injury in which bleeding occurs into the space between the dura (i.e., the outer covering of the brain) and the brain itself. The bleeding in the subdural space can put undue pressure on the delicate brain tissues and can cause several neurological disorders. Subdural hematoma is considered a serious medical condition and needs emergency medical care.

Most often subdural hematoma is a result of some serious injury to the head. Injuries to the head may stretch the brain tissues and can cause the blood vessels to burst, resulting in bleeding. Sometimes, however, it can also be caused by a medical condition known as cerebral aneurysm, which causes spontaneous bursting of blood vessels. The brain is capable of withstanding minor movement, but it may not absorb a sudden blow. In such a case, the brain hits against the inner wall of the skull and is itself damaged. Subdural hematoma is more like to happen to an elderly or alcoholic person. Also, someone on anticoagulant medicines is more likely to suffer a subdural hematoma.

The common symptoms of subdural hematoma may or may not be visible immediately after a head injury. It can remain dormant up to 2-4 weeks before showing any symptoms. Common symptoms are – dizziness, headache, seizures, amnesia, slurring, blurred vision, nausea, and a sense of disorientation.

Patients with subdural hematoma should be immediately treated by a doctor. Besides a through neurological check-up, a CT scan or MRI scan should be performed to detect a subdural hematoma. Treatment is determined by the size and the extent of hematoma. Small subdural hematomas may be treated with medication under proper medical observation. In bigger hematomas, however, surgical procedure is the only option. There are two types of surgical treatment available – perforation and craniotomy. In perforation technique, a small hole is made into the skull and the blood is sucked out. In craniotomy, which is done for treating large hematomas, a portion of the skull is cut open and the blood is drained out. Proper post-operative care and observation is required for a long period of time because the recovery is often prolonged.

It is important that certain safety measures are taken to avoid head injuries. For all outdoor activities and sports, the safety measures should always be followed. Wear proper protective gear when you take part in any such activities. While sitting in a vehicle, ensure that you have buckled your seat belt properly. And always get yourself examined by a doctor if you have had an injury to the head, even if it shows no adverse effect immediately.