Pronounced: sub-dur-al hee-ma-toe-ma
A hematoma is a collection of blood. A subdural hematoma develops in the space between the brain and the skull. This pool of blood can put pressure on the brain and cause a range of symptoms.
This can be serious and life-threatening injury. You will need to seek medical care.
A subdural hematoma is most often caused by a head injury. The injury may be caused by traumas such as falls, car accidents, or physical abuse.
Factors that increase your risk of a subdural hematoma include:
If you have any of these risk factors, tell your doctor.
The blood may pool quickly or take some time to build up. This will affect how fast the symptoms develop. The subdural hematoma may be:
After a head injury, a subdural hematoma may cause the following symptoms:
Seek medical care immediately if you have any of these symptoms after a head injury.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may also be referred to a specialist for additional testing.
Your doctor may need pictures of the brain and skull. This may be done with:
Tests to assess brain function may include:
Blood tests may also be done to look for signs of bleeding.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment will depend on the size and severity of the hematoma. It will also be based on your specific symptoms.
Treatment options include the following:
A minor injury with little or no symptoms may not need treatment. Your doctor may simply ask that you watch for any new symptoms. It can take days and weeks for some symptoms to develop.
These tests assess how well your brain is working. The tests may be repeated while you recover to help your doctor determine:
Medication may be given to relieve symptoms. Some medications may include:
Surgery may be needed to relieve pressure on the brain. Surgical procedures that may be considered include:
To help reduce your chance of head injury, take these steps:
American Academy of Neurology
American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
Brain Injury Association of America
The Brain Injury Association of Canada
Ontario Brain Injury Association
Chronic and subacute subdural hematoma. Barnabas Health website. Available at: http://www.barnaba... . Accessed November 12, 2012.
Servadei F, Compagnone C, Sahuquillo J. The role of surgery in traumatic brain injury. Curr Opin Crit Care. 2007;13:163-168.
Subdural hematoma. EBSCO Dynamed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated October 22, 2012. Accessed November 12, 2012.
Subdural haematoma. Patient UK website. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/27001513/ . Updated March 2009. Accessed November 12, 2012.
Acute subdural hematomas. UCLA Neurosurgery website. Available at: http://www.uhn.ca/... . Accessed November 12, 2012.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 11/26/2012