Even minor head trauma can put excessive force on the brain that may result in inter-cranial bleed (commonly referred to as a subdural hematoma). Subdural hematomas (SDH) occur when blood vessels burst in the space between the brain and the outermost membrane that covers the brain (dura mater).
What happens in the brain when a subdural hematoma forms?
The collection of blood forms a hematoma, which puts pressure on the brain tissue. When the pressure from an active bleed builds and goes unrelieved, people can suffer serious injuries or even death. Acute subdural hematomas are among the most lethal of head injuries, with a mortality rate of between 50-90%. 30% of fatal head injuries include an acute subdural hematoma.
Causes of brain bleeds and other traumatic head injuries
Although a traumatic head injury is often the cause of an SDH, even a minor head injury can cause a cranial bleed in some people. There are some risk factors that can contribute to a SDH but it is possible for someone to suffer cranial bleeding spontaneously as well. Some risk factors include:
- Infants or very young children
- Anticoagulant medication
- Repeated head injuries
- Alcohol abuse
Symptoms of a possible subdural hematoma or other injury to the brain
Any head injury should be taken seriously as there is possibility of a concussion or even cranial bleeding. Especially in children and the elderly, if there are any signs of a SDH, medical attention should be sought immediately. Some common symptoms are:
- Lethargy or confusion
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Speech impairment
- Visual problems
Medical treatment for subdural hematomas
After any injury to the head, doctors and hospitals need to be tuned in to patient complaints and be mindful of the symptoms of a subdural hematoma. When identified early, patients who sustain a head injury are more likely to have better outcome and survival rate. Depending on the size of the hematoma, surgery may be required.
- In a small SDH less than 1 cm in diameter at the thickest point, surgery may not be required.
- In the case of a larger SDH of 1 cm or larger, a craniotomy may be required where surgery is performed through a hole in the skull to remove the clot and to surgical repair bleeding areas.
Prognosis for those who need surgery for a SDH varies on the type, size and quantity of contusions to the brain. Younger patients and those who receive immediate medical attention have a higher rate of recovery. An estimated 20-30% of patients who undergo surgical removal of a SDH will fully recover.
Long-term effects of brain bleeds
There is a high frequency of seizures in persons who have had a SDH. The after effects vary greatly depending on the severity, location and the individual. Although full recovery is possible, many may have long-term and even permanent physical and cognitive disabilities from their injury.
Attorneys for subdural hematoma and other types of brain injuries
Jimmie Kang Law Firm represents clients who have sustained subdural hematomas due to accident related trauma or falls in medical facilities. Our Orange County lawyers are available to speak with you for a free consultation at any time.
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