Head injuries sometimes cause blood to accumulate within the brain itself or in the area between the skull and the brain. These accumulations of blood are called intracranial hematomas. Symptoms may include persistent headaches, confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech, memory loss, paralysis and other symptoms, depending on the region of the brain affected.
Computed tomography (CT scans) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to diagnose intracranial hematomas. Because there are multiple causes of intracranial hematomas (blood clots) besides traumatic head injury, proper and prompt diagnosis is important.
A blow to the head or a skull fracture can tear one or more blood vessels causing bleeding between the skull and the outer layer of tissue (dura mater) that covers the brain.
Epidural hematomas are very serious medical conditions and can be fatal. They may develop quickly and press on the brain causing swelling and brain herniation which can lead to loss of consciousness, coma, breathing difficulties, paralysis, and death.
The first symptom of an epidural hematoma is often a severe headache which may disappear before returning a few hours later, worse than ever. Early diagnosis is critical to a successful outcome. Treatment may include surgery performed to drain excess blood from the injury site and/or stop the bleeding.
When veins that bridge the middle and outer layers of tissue covering the brain tear and bleed, blood accumulates in the space between the two layers forming a subdural hematoma. As a result, there may be an acute, sub acute, or chronic bleed depending on the severity of the head injury and the victim’s age.
A severe head injury may cause rapid bleeding into the space between the two layers which are called the arachnoid mater and the dura mater. This event may produce an acute bleed with symptoms that come on relatively quickly, within a few minutes or hours. A sub acute subdural hematoma may cause symptoms that develop over several hours or days.
Chronic subdural hematomas are more likely to occur in the elderly because even a minor injury can stretch the bridging veins and cause a tear. Moreover, older people are more susceptible to falls and bleeding. Their brains also shrink with age. As a result, the space between the arachnoid mater and the dura mater becomes larger. When there is a bleed, more blood can accumulate in this larger space for a longer period of time before sufficient pressure is exerted on the brain to produce noticeable symptoms.
Symptoms of subdural hematomas are similar to those observed in epidural hematomas. They may include persistent headaches, confusion, alteration in memory, fluctuating drowsiness, speech impairment, and paralysis.
Small subdural hematomas in adults may not always require surgical intervention because the blood is gradually absorbed by surrounding tissue. A large hematoma may necessitate a surgical procedure during which a small hole is drilled in the skull and the hematoma is drained.
Severe trauma can cause a cerebral contusion which, in turn, may cause an intracerebral hematoma. The hematoma, together with resulting edema, may then compress or damage nearby brain tissue including neural connections producing neurological dysfunction.
The nature of the neurological damage caused by an intracerebral hematoma depends on the specific location of the bleed. Typical symptoms include alteration in a person’s level of consciousness, nausea and vomiting, headaches, seizures and focal neurological deficits such as sensory loss, paralysis, ataxia, aphasia, or confusion. Unlike subdural and epidural hematomas, intracerebral hematomas lie within the substance of the brain itself, not in the spaces between the skull and the brain.
Strokes and other non-traumatic medical conditions can also cause intracerebral hematomas.
Hematoma Injury Attorneys
At Allen & Allen, our brain hematoma lawyers have handled many brain injury lawsuits and our experience has allowed us to obtain substantial monetary settlements and recoveries for our clients. Our process for handling your case ensures you know what to expect as we develop your claim. Call the brain hematoma attorneys at the Allen Law Firm for a free consultation at 866-388-6412.