A subdural hematoma is a buildup of blood between the layers of tissue that cover the brain. The blood collects under the layer closest to the skull. (This layer is called the dura.) The bleeding is most often caused by a head injury, but there can be other causes. In an older adult, even a minor injury can lead to a subdural hematoma.
The buildup of blood inside the skull can put pressure on the brain. This may cause symptoms, such as a severe headache, confusion, or seizures.
There are two kinds of hematomas: acute and chronic.
Doctors use imaging tests to find the buildup of blood. You may have a test such as a CT scan or MRI. The doctor may also do a test to check the pressure inside your skull.
Bleeding inside the skull may get worse over time. So it is very important to pay attention to your symptoms. And be sure to see your doctor for follow-up testing.
In some cases, treatment is needed to remove the blood. This helps relieve the pressure on the brain. Your doctor may make one or two small holes in your skull. For a large hematoma, the doctor may need to remove a piece of the skull.
You may not need treatment if you have a small hematoma that is not causing symptoms.
If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, you may need to stop taking it. The doctor may give you treatment to undo the effects of the blood thinner. This can help prevent more bleeding in the skull.
The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter Z918 in the search box to learn more about "Subdural Hematoma: Care Instructions".
Current as of: October 9, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
©2006-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.