Subdural Hemorrhage

A subdural hemorrhage (or hematoma) is a type of bleeding that often occurs outside the brain as a result of a severe head injury. It takes place when blood vessels burst between the brain and the leather-like membrane that wraps around the brain (the dura mater). The pooling blood creates pressure on the surface of the brain, causing a variety of problems.



Subdural hemorrhage symptoms depend on how quickly blood collects inside the skull. In an acute hemorrhage, signs and symptoms will usually appear immediately. With chronic hemorrhaging, leaking blood collects more slowly, and it can take weeks or months for symptoms to appear. Often, the cause is a minor incident that doesn’t stand out as being particularly harmful. Chronic hemorrhaging is more common in older adults, who may develop symptoms that mimic a stroke or dementia. 

Symptoms of a subdural hematoma may include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Weakness, or numbness on one side of the body
  • Drowsiness
  • Speech and comprehension problems
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures


First, your doctor will ask about your symptoms. He or she may order a CT scan or an MRI to determine the extent of the hemorrhage.

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Treatment Options

Treatment for subdural hemorrhages depends on the severity of the condition. For minor hemorrhaging, observation may be the only treatment necessary. Surgery may be required for more severe situations. Treatments may include:

  • BrainPath® surgery: This approach allows your surgeon to remove the tumor through a dime-sized channel, or port. Compared with traditional open surgery, it typically causes less scarring, fewer complications and a quicker recovery.
  • Surgery: In some cases, traditional surgery may be needed to drain the blood or repair damaged blood vessels.
  • Draining the fluid that surrounds the brain: This creates room for the hematoma to expand without damaging brain cells.
  • Medication: Drugs are used to control blood pressure, seizures or headaches.
  • Catheter: A long, thin tube is threaded through blood vessels until it reaches the affected area. 
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy: These help a patient regain brain functions (such as the ability to speak) that may have been affected by the bleeding.

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