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Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Understanding Acute on Chronic Subdural Hematomas: 10 FAQs Simplified - Explained ChatGPT


The symptoms of a subdural hematoma (brain hemorrhage) can vary depending on the severity of the bleed and how quickly it develops. Early signs may include:

  • Headache: Often severe and persistent, especially after a head injury.
  • Confusion: Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, or understanding.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Especially if they occur without any other apparent cause.
  • Dizziness or loss of balance: Feeling unsteady on your feet.
  • Slurred speech: Difficulty speaking clearly or forming coherent sentences.
  • Weakness or numbness: Particularly on one side of the body.
  • General weakness of the limbs
  • Gait instability
  • Visual disturbances: Blurred vision or seeing double.
  • Seizures: Especially if they occur after a head injury.
  • Changes in behavior or personality: Sudden mood swings or irritability.

If you or someone else experiences these symptoms after a head injury or trauma, it's crucial to seek medical attention immediately, as a subdural hematoma can be life-threatening if left untreated.

What Exactly is a Subdural Hematoma?

A subdural hematoma is when there's bleeding in your head, specifically between layers of tissue that safeguard your brain. These layers are called the meninges: the dura mater (the outer layer), the arachnoid mater (the middle layer), and the pia mater (the inner layer).

How Does It Occur?

A tear in a blood vessel causes blood to leak into the space between the dura mater and the arachnoid mater. This active bleeding is called a subdural hemorrhage, and over time, a collection of blood forms a subdural hematoma.

What Are the Different Types of Subdural Hematomas?

  • Acute: This is the most dangerous type, where symptoms show up right after a head injury, often within minutes to hours. Immediate medical attention is vital.
  • Subacute: Symptoms might not appear until hours, days, or even weeks after the injury.
  • Chronic: More common in older adults, bleeding occurs slowly, and symptoms may take weeks or months to appear.

What Are the Symptoms Like?

  • Acute: Severe symptoms and a rapid increase in pressure on the brain.
  • Subacute: Symptoms appear after a delay.
  • Chronic: Symptoms develop gradually, sometimes even after minor head injuries.

How Common Are They?

Subdural hematomas affect about 1 in 4 people who sustain head injuries. Remember, it's important to seek medical attention promptly after any head injury.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Age, alcoholism, blood-thinning medication, and repeated head injuries increase the risk of developing subdural hematomas.

How Are They Diagnosed?

Doctors typically use imaging tests like CT scans or MRIs to diagnose subdural hematomas.

What’s the Treatment Like?

Treatment depends on the severity and type of hematoma. It might include medications, surgery to drain the blood, or other procedures.

What’s the Recovery Process?

Recovery varies depending on the individual and the severity of the hematoma. Some people recover fully, while others may have lasting effects.

How Can They Be Prevented?

Preventing head injuries is key. This includes wearing seat belts, using helmets during sports or recreational activities, and taking precautions to prevent falls, especially among older adults.

What are the difference stroke vs hematoma?

A hematoma and a stroke are two distinct medical conditions with different causes, symptoms, and effects on the body:


Definition: A hematoma refers to a localized collection of blood outside of blood vessels, often caused by trauma or injury.

Cause: It usually occurs due to damage to blood vessels, leading to blood leaking into surrounding tissues and forming a clot.

Symptoms: Symptoms can vary depending on the location and size of the hematoma but may include pain, swelling, discoloration, and sometimes pressure on nearby structures.

Types: There are various types of hematomas, including subdural hematomas (within the skull), epidural hematomas (between the skull and the outermost covering of the brain), and subungual hematomas (under the fingernail or toenail).

Treatment: Treatment may involve monitoring, applying ice or compression, draining the hematoma, or surgery in severe cases.


Definition: A stroke occurs when blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, leading to damage or death of brain cells.

Cause: Strokes can be caused by a blockage of blood flow (ischemic stroke) or by bleeding into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

Symptoms: Symptoms of a stroke often include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, trouble speaking or understanding speech, sudden severe headache, dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination.

Types: Ischemic strokes are the most common type and occur when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes happen when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue.

Treatment: Treatment for a stroke depends on its type and severity but may involve medications to dissolve blood clots, surgery to remove a clot or repair a ruptured blood vessel, or rehabilitation to regain lost functions.

Subdural Hematoma | Anatomy, Etiology, Pathophysiology, Clinical Features, Treatment


a subdural hematoma is not typically regarded as a stroke or a mini-stroke.

Subdural Hematoma

Definition: A subdural hematoma occurs when blood collects between the dura mater (the outer protective covering of the brain) and the brain itself. This usually results from a head injury, which causes blood vessels to burst and leak blood.

Causes: Often caused by trauma, such as a fall, car accident, or other impact to the head.


Definition: A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. Brain cells begin to die within minutes.

Ischemic Stroke: Caused by a blockage in an artery.

Hemorrhagic Stroke: Caused by a blood vessel that bursts and bleeds into the brain.

Causes: Can be due to blood clots, atherosclerosis, or burst blood vessels.

Mini-Stroke (Transient Ischemic Attack, TIA)

Definition: A TIA is similar to a stroke, but the symptoms are temporary and usually last less than 24 hours. It is often a warning sign of a potential future stroke.

Causes: Temporary blockage in a blood vessel supplying the brain.

Key Differences

Nature: A subdural hematoma is specifically related to bleeding between the brain's surface and its outer covering due to trauma, whereas strokes and mini-strokes are related to the disruption of blood supply within the brain.

Symptoms and Treatment: Subdural hematomas often require surgical intervention to relieve pressure on the brain, while strokes and mini-strokes are treated with medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes surgery to address the underlying cause of the blood supply disruption.

Therefore, while a subdural hematoma involves bleeding in the brain, it is classified differently from strokes and mini-strokes due to its distinct causes and treatment approaches.

Abstract from UpToDate:

What are subdural hematomas and epidural hematomas?

These terms refer to bleeding on the surface (and outside) of the brain.

"Hematoma" means a collection of blood. The words "subdural" and "epidural" refer to the exact location of the bleeding (figure 1):

●A subdural hematoma is bleeding just under the tough, outer covering of the brain. This covering is called the "dura."

●An epidural hematoma is bleeding just under the skull on top of the dura. This type of hematoma is not common.

Although the bleeding is not actually in the brain, if there is a big blood clot, it can put pressure on the brain. This can lead to symptoms.

What causes subdural hematomas and epidural hematomas?

They can happen after an injury to the head. The most common causes include:

●A car crash

●A fall

●A physical attack or assault

If a head injury causes a blood vessel inside the skull to tear, it can lead to a hematoma. An "acute" hematoma happens in the first hours after the injury. If the bleeding continues, the hematoma can keep growing, days after the injury. Many people with a head injury that causes an epidural hematoma also have a skull fracture.

A subdural hematoma can also be "chronic." This type happens most often in older people whose brains have shrunk slightly due to age. In these people, a mild head injury can cause a tear in a small vein. This can then lead to bleeding on the brain's surface. The injury can be so mild that the person doesn't even notice it or remember it later. The hematoma grows slowly, over several days or weeks.

Rarely, a subdural hematoma or an epidural hematoma can happen without a head injury. This can happen if there is a problem with the blood vessels in the brain or a bleeding disorder. It can also happen if a brain infection causes a blood vessel to break.

What are the symptoms of a subdural hematoma or an epidural hematoma?

Some people pass out after getting a serious head injury and a large, acute hematoma. Other times, the symptoms appear later, as the hematoma puts pressure on the brain.

Symptoms depend on where the hematoma is and how big it is. They can include:





●Trouble walking

●Slurred speech or being unable to speak

●Acting less alert than normal


●Confusion or trouble thinking



Will I need tests?

Yes. Tests include imaging tests that take pictures of your brain, such as:

●CT scan


These tests can show where and how big the bleed is. They will also show whether it is a subdural hematoma or an epidural hematoma.

Your doctor or nurse will also do a "neurologic exam." During this, the doctor checks how your brain, nerves, and muscles are working.

How is a subdural hematoma or an epidural hematoma treated?

It depends on the type and size of the hematoma and your symptoms.

●Many people with epidural hematomas need surgery. Some people with subdural hematomas that are large or causing symptoms need surgery. The surgery involves draining the hematoma and relieving the pressure on the brain.

●If the hematoma is small, your doctor might recommend waiting to see if it gets better on its own. You might need to stay in the hospital during this time. In this case, the doctor will do a follow-up CT scan or MRI to confirm that the hematoma is going away.

●If you take certain medicines, your doctor might tell you to stop taking them for a time. Examples include aspirin, clopidogrel (brand name: Plavix), or "blood thinners" such as warfarin, dabigatran, apixaban, or rivaroxaban. Talk to the doctor who first prescribed these medicines about when and if you should start taking them again.

What will my life be like?

Many people who are treated for a subdural hematoma or an epidural hematoma recover fully. Others have long-term problems. It depends on how big the hematoma was, and whether it was causing serious symptoms. It also depends on the person's age and overall health. Your doctor can talk to you about what to expect as you recover.

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