A subdural hematoma refers to the collection of blood between the dura mater and arachnoid mater, which are meninges or membranes that surround the brain. This article provides information on the symptoms of this condition.
The term ‘hematoma’ refers to the accumulation of blood under the surface of the skin. It is categorized into various types, depending on the part of the body wherein the blood accumulates. Bleeding or hemorrhage could also occur within the skull. The human brain comprises three layers of meninges or membranes that envelop the brain and the spinal cord. The outer, middle, and inner membranes that enclose the brain within the skull are referred to as dura mater, arachnoid mater, and pia mater respectively. The space between the dura mater and arachnoid mater is referred to as the epidural space, whereas the space between arachnoid mater and pia mater is referred to as subarachnoid space. The space between the dura mater and arachnoid mater is called the subdural space. When blood collects in the subdural space, one is diagnosed with subdural hematoma.
Causes and Symptoms
Internal bleeding could occur in any part of the body due to accidents, falls, or any other type of traumatic injuries. Subdural hematoma is most likely to arise when one suffers from a brain injury. It could be acute or chronic. In case of the former, the bleeding in the subdural space takes place at a rapid rate, and the symptoms might start appearing immediately or within a few hours of the head injury. When it comes to the chronic form, the blood clots or pools of blood develop over a period of time, and the symptoms start appearing only after a couple of weeks.
People affected by blood clotting disorders are at an increased risk of developing this condition. This condition might also occur as a result of aging. Blood vessels in the brain can also become weak, as one ages and might rupture easily. Those in the age group of 50 to 60 years are more susceptible.
The symptoms might include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Weakness of limbs on one side of the body
- Visual disturbance
- Slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness
When this condition affects the infants, it might give rise to the following symptoms:
- Feeding difficulties
- Focal seizures
- Bulging soft spots on the baby’s skull
Diagnosis and Treatment
Physical examination and diagnostic tests might be conducted for diagnosing this condition. Blood tests can help in determining any abnormality associated with blood clotting. Imaging procedures such as the CT scan and MRI scan are very effective when it comes to detecting this condition. Repeated scanning can help in determining the size of the hematoma. If its size is increasing, then the treatment would involve drilling ‘burr holes’ into the skull. These are small holes that are drilled over the subdural space, so as to remove the blood by way of suction. This will help in relieving the pressure that might be exerted by the blood on the brain.
Sometimes blood might accumulate in the subdural space after a surgery. Under such circumstances, the treatment would involve drainage of the blood. If this doesn’t seem to work, then doctors might resort to craniotomy, which involves the creation of a large opening in the skull in order to drain out the blood. Besides these surgical procedures, doctors may also prescribe certain anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers for alleviating the symptoms. The types of drugs and medications that will be prescribed will depend on the severity and the type of symptoms experienced by the patient. For instance, anti-convulsion drugs will be prescribed for those affected by seizures.
Since alcoholics are at an increased risk of developing this condition, one must refrain from excessive consumption of alcohol. The prolonged use of blood-thinning medication can also increase the risk, which is why people taking these drugs must watch out for the aforementioned symptoms. Since head injuries are most likely to cause this condition, one must consult a doctor after sustaining such an injury. Prompt treatment can definitely lower the risk of the fatal complications of this condition.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.