When you suffer a brain injury, there is a possibility of bleeding in the brain. This is called a hematoma, and it is a diffuse brain injury. After a single blow to the head, diffuse brain injuries affect multiple parts of the brain as well as the blood vessels around it.Hematomas are classified according to where the bleeding in the brain is located. Subdural hematomas, for example, are hematomas in which blood builds up in one of the layers of the dura mater (the outer protective covering of the brain). Epidural hematomas are buildups of blood between the dura mater and the skull.No matter what type of hematoma you have, hematomas are especially dangerous and potentially fatal. Thats one of the many reasons why its important to get either a CT scan or an MRI after your traumatic brain injury just to be safe.
What is a Subdural Hematoma?Subdural hematomas are usually caused by head injuries. When speeds rapidly change inside of the skull after a hard blow to the head, this sudden shift might stretch and tear small blood veins.On a CT scan, subdural hematomas appear as crescent-shaped objects. They have a convex appearance in the early stage of bleeding, which may cause problems in distinguishing between subdural and epidural hematomas. Subdural hematomas usually occur at the tops and sides of the brain (the frontal and parietal lobes). Unlike epidural hematomas, subdural hematomas can expand past the sutures of the skull and expand along the inside. This creates a concave shape following the brains curve.Besides car accidents, subdural hematomas are also caused by shaken baby syndrome. Shaken baby syndrome happens when someone violently shakes an infant and creates a whiplash-like personal injury. Subdural hematomas can also be found in the elderly and some alcoholics who have evidence of veins with increased lengths.Subdural hematomas are more common than epidural hematomas and manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Subdural hematomas develop slower than epidural hematomas because of the lower pressure in veins compared to arteries. Because of that, symptoms may appear from as early as 24 hours after the brain injury to as much as two weeks afterward. If the bleeding is left unchecked, increased ICP (intracranial pressure) will present itself.Subdural hematomas are also divided into three subtypes depending on how fast they occur:
- Acute Bleeding develops after rapid changes of speed inside the skull. Acute hematomas are more severe as they get bigger and even more so when combined with cerebral contusions
- Chronic These hematomas develop over a period of days to weeks, and theyre usually caused by minor head trauma. Bleeding is usually slow and usually stops by itself.
- Subacute Subacute hematomas have characteristics of acute and chronic hematomas.