What is Intracranial Hematoma?
Intracranial hematoma is a medical condition where the blood vessels present between the brain and the skull are ruptured or the blood vessels within the brain are ruptured leading to accumulation of blood in brain. Hematoma refers to collection of blood. This collection of blood or hematoma can put a lot of pressure on the tissues of the brain. In case of a sudden blow to the brain, if the fluids present in the brain are not able to absorb the force, the brain is pushed against the skull leading to intracranial hematoma. Intracranial hematoma is a serious type of head injury that can even result in the death of the person. Thus, immediate treatment is required. Usually, nonsurgical methods are not enough to remove the accumulated blood in the brain.
Causes of Intracranial Hematoma
Intracranial hematoma is one of the types of head injuries that may be caused due to variety of reasons such as a road accident, assault, falling from height, or due to sports injuries. In case of an impact to the brain, it is not necessary that intracranial hematoma is always associated with severe physical injury.
Symptoms of Intracranial Hematoma
The symptoms of intracranial hematoma do not necessarily appear soon after the injury and it may take many days or weeks to feel any symptoms. You might not feel anything during the so called lucid period and gradually the blood keeps on accumulating causing one or more of the following symptoms.
- Headache that continues to become severe with time.
- Rise in blood pressure.
- Feel like vomiting.
- Feeling drowsy with gradual loss of consciousness.
- Feeling dizzy.
- Not able to take decisions.
- Difference in size of the pupil.
- Difficulty in speaking.
As the blood continues to accumulate in the brain, the pressure on the brain leads to severe symptoms such as unconsciousness, seizures or lethargy.
Tests to Diagnose Intracranial Hematoma
It can be difficult to detect the occurrence of intracranial hematoma, as it does not show any symptoms after the injury for a long time. The doctors may wrongly suspect that loss of consciousness is caused by brain hemorrhage until the case of intracranial hematoma is detected.
The best tests available for the detection of intracranial hematoma include advanced imaging techniques such as CT scan and MRI scan.
In computerized tomography (CT) scan for diagnosing intracranial hematoma, an X-ray machine is used to produce X-rays. The interference of these X-rays are recorded and used to create an image of the portion of the head being scanned. CT scans are the most commonly used detection techniques for intracranial bleeding.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is a more advanced type of scanning that uses electromagnetic waves to create an image of the brain. However, MRI scans are not often used for the detection of intracranial bleeding, as it is less readily available and takes longer time for detection.
Treatment for Intracranial Hematoma
The nonsurgical treatment options for intracranial hematoma requires closely monitoring the symptoms of intracranial hematoma such as build-up of pressure and observing any neurological changes. The person has to undergo CT scan frequently to observe the condition. In case of patients who consume medications to make blood thinner are first required to take medications that can reverse the effect. However, surgery is usually required in most of the cases to treat this condition.
Surgery for Intracranial Hematoma
There are mainly two types of surgical treatment options available for intracranial hematoma.
In surgical drainage for treating intracranial hematoma, the doctor or the surgeon drills a small hole into the brain precisely at the location of the blood accumulation to suck the blood out. However, it is applicable in such cases where blood has not yet started to clot.
Another procedure for treating intracranial hematoma is craniotomy. If the blood has taken the form of clot, craniotomy is used in which a part of the skull is opened to remove the accumulated blood.
Recovery Period/Healing Time for Intracranial Hematoma
The recovery period or healing time in case of intracranial hematoma is of the first six months, but the recovery process continues further for a couple of years.
Prevention of Intracranial Hematoma
Intracranial hematoma can be prevented by taking necessary measures to avoid injury to head. Some of these methods are as follows:
- Wearing helmet while driving a motorcycle or playing games. There are some particular sports such as skating, horse riding, skateboarding, skiing, etc... that involve a high risk of head injuries. A head injury can easily result into an intracranial hematoma. Also, riding a vehicle can also cause head injury. Wearing helmet can help in preventing these injuries.
- Fasten your seat belts while driving or traveling in a four wheeler. Head injuries may also during an accident while driving a four wheeler such as car. Head injuries can be prevented by properly fastening your seat belts.
- Try to create a safe environment for your children. Kids can easily get injured while playing or running around home. Thus, you must ensure that are no sharp edges on the tables or furniture that can cause severe head injuries.
Coping with Intracranial Hematoma
Being patient is crucial if you are a sufferer of intracranial hematoma. Below mentioned are some of the coping tips for intracranial hematoma:
- Get back to your routine activity only after the consultation with the doctor.
- Best coping method for intracranial hematoma is getting ample amount of sleep for at least 8 hours every day. If you feel tired in the afternoon, you should get some sleep.
- Do not drive, participate in sports or do anything which can possibly lead to a head injury because if you have another injury while you are recovering, the complications will increase.
- Another way to cope with intracranial hematoma is by avoiding alcohol.
- If you have trouble in remembering things, then make a list of activities to do everyday and stick to the daily plan.
- Before making any decisions regarding going back to work or medicine changes or lifestyle changes, talk to your doctor first.
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