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A subdural hematoma is a collection of blood outside the brain. Blood collects
between the layers of the tissue that surround the brain. The bleeding
of a subdural hematoma is not in the brain itself. However, as blood accumulates
the pressure on the brain increases. This pressure causes the symptoms
of this condition and if the pressure on the brain rises to a high level
it can cause unconsciousness, even death.
Subdural hematomas are usually caused by a serious head injury such as
a fall, a motor vehicle accident or possibly an assault or sporting accident.
This is considered an "acute" subdural hematoma. People who
are on blood thinners are more likely to get a subdural hematoma from
even a slight injury. In "chronic" subdural hematomas, the small
veins on the outer surface of the brain tear and cause bleeding in the
subdural space. Symptoms of this type may not appear for days or weeks.
Symptoms of a subdural hematoma may be sudden or gradual depending on the
circumstance and cause. Sudden subdural hematomas from injury may cause
a person to lose consciousness or go into a coma immediately. In the event
of an injury where there are no immediate symptoms a person may appear
normal for several days after slowly becoming confused and possibly unconscious
several days later. This may cause the subdural hematoma to slowly grow
causing pressure on the brain. Even in a slight injury with a slow growing
hematoma, there may not be any symptoms for weeks after the injury. Symptoms
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Drowsiness or lethargy
Individuals who present to and emergency room or seek medical attention
after a head injury will undergo scans such as CT scans or MRI scans to
detect the presence of a subdural hematoma.