A subdural hematoma is a collection of blood between the skull and the surface of the brain. Depending on the amount of blood pooled, this can cause compression of the brain. Subdural hematomas can either be acute or chronic. Acute subdural hematomas generally are a result of a serious traumatic injury and can cause rapid decline. Chronic subdural hematomas usually result from minor traumatic injuries or from tearing of delicate blood vessels on the surface of the brain. These are more common in the elderly because, with time, the brain shrinks and makes the veins more vulnerable to injury.
Risk factors for subdural hematoma include: blood thinners (i.e., aspirin, coumadin, heparin), chronic alcohol abuse, recurrent head injury, repeated falls, very young or very old age. The symptoms of a subdural hematoma can be vague and mistaken for other conditions. Symptoms include: confusion, balance trouble, headache, vomiting, slurred speech, lethargy, loss of consciousness, seizures, or change in vision.
Subdural hematomas can be diagnosed with a CT scan or an MRI. They are generally a medical emergency unless they have been present for a long time and are not causing any symptoms. The treatment of a subdural hematoma depends on the size of the blood collection and the patient's symtoms. Typically, surgery is required to drain some of the blood and relieve the pressure caused by the hematoma. Your surgeon will choose which surgical approach would best address your condition.
Prognosis varies greatly and depends on the size of the hematoma, the patient's overall health, the location of the head injury and how quickly the condition was treated. Most patients require a period of rehabilitation to help recover from the subdural hematoma.