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Every day, 138 people in the United States die from injuries that include traumatic brain injury. Brain injuries are a cause of the bleeding condition known as subdural hematoma.*
*Source: CDC

Subdural Hematoma Overview

A subdural hematoma is a collection of blood on the surface of the brain, usually resulting from a serious head injury. An acute subdural hematoma is among the deadliest types of head injuries. The bleeding fills the brain area rapidly, which compresses brain tissue, leading to brain injury and possibly death.


Tiny veins between the brain’s surface and its outer covering (dura) stretch and tear, which allows the blood to collect. Even a minor head injury, especially in the elderly, can cause a subdural hematoma. That’s because the veins are already stretched due to brain shrinkage and are more easily injured. In some cases a subdural hematoma can be caused by a procedure such as a lumbar puncture.


There are three types of subdural hematomas. All are serious medical conditions that can result in permanent brain damage.


  • Acute. This is the most dangerous type and is caused by a severe head injury and signs and symptoms appear almost immediately.
  • Subacute. With this type it can take longer—even days or weeks after the injury—for symptoms to appear.
  • Chronic. This subdural hematoma is characterized by slower bleeding that may not be associated with a head injury. Symptoms can take weeks to appear.

WellStar neurologists and neurosurgeons are expert in diagnosing and treating subdural hematomas. The WellStar Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery Program offers state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment setting and options.


Symptoms

Any of the following subdural hematoma symptoms are possible, depending on the type of hematoma and how and where it is pressing on the brain:


  • Problems with speaking and swallowing
  • Problems with balance or walking
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Confusion or lethargy
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Weakness or numbness in the face and limbs
  • Vision problems
  • Feeling of weakness
  • Drowsiness

In infants, symptoms can include:


  • Bulging of the “soft spots” (fontanelles) on the baby’s skull
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Seizures
  • High-pitched crying
  • Increase in head circumference
  • Irritability
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Separated sutures (the areas where the growing skull bones join together)

If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, or has sustained a head injury, seek medical help. Call 911 or get to an emergency room in case of seizures or loss of consciousness.


If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, or has sustained a head injury, seek medical help. Call 911 or get to an emergency room in case of seizures or loss of consciousness.


Risk Factors

The following are risk factors for developing subdural hematoma.


  • Use of anticoagulant medications (including aspirin) to thin the blood
  • Long-term abuse of alcohol
  • Numerous falls
  • Repeated head injury
  • Age—being very young or very old