If you have experienced recent head trauma from a car accident, sporting event, or fall, you might be at risk for an intracranial hemorrhage. At IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics, we treat intracranial hemorrhages and other brain conditions at our locations throughout New York and New Jersey. You can trust our award-winning team to deliver the high-quality and compassionate care you need to recover.
What Is Intracranial Hemorrhage?
An intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) occurs when a blood vessel ruptures within or near the brain. As blood spills out of the broken vessel, it begins to form a pool and eventually a clot near the brain. This growing pool puts pressure on brain tissue, causing neurological symptoms.
Intracranial hemorrhages are typically the result of a head injury from a fall, sports or vehicle accident, or assault. They may also be caused by the rupture of an aneurysm, high blood pressure, or a tumor. Older adults are most at risk, especially if they are taking medicines that prevent blood clotting. Other risk factors include a family history of ICH, heavy alcohol or substance use, or hypertension.
Types of Intracranial Hemorrhage
There are a few different types of intracranial hemorrhages, categorized by the type of hematoma involved and where it is located. These include:
- Subdural hematoma: A subdural hematoma occurs when blood vessels rupture between the brain and the outermost membrane covering called the dura mater. These types of hematoma are free to spread and may drain blood away from the brain, making them more serious.
- Epidural hematoma: When a blood vessel – normally an artery – ruptures between the outside of the dura mater and the skull, it is known as an epidural or extradural hematoma. The space is very tight, which helps to limit the extent of the bleeding and prevent spreading.
- Intraparenchymal hematoma: Also known as an intracerebral hematoma, this type is the most dangerous. The blood pools within the brain itself. Unlike the other two types, this is less often the result of trauma and most frequently occurs alongside a stroke.
Common Symptoms of Intracranial Hemorrhage
The onset of an intracranial hemorrhage is often very sudden, with a severe headache and signs of neurological deficit present. Symptoms then progressively get worse over minutes or hours. These include:
- Increasing headaches
- Slurred speech
- Dizziness or confusion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Drowsiness or loss of consciousness
- Elevated blood pressure
- Uneven pupils
If the intracranial hemorrhage is not addressed, the pressure on the brain can eventually lead to lethargy, seizures, or unconsciousness.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Intracranial Hemorrhage
An intracranial hemorrhage is diagnosed with a computed tomography (CT) scan for swelling or clots. An alternative diagnosis option is a lumbar puncture to test spinal fluids for abnormalities. Upon diagnosis, ICH must be treated promptly by neurovascular surgery. The specific treatment type depends on the kind of hematoma that is causing the brain pressure. Options include:
- Drainage: If the blood is near the skull, has remained in one area, and isn’t clotting, the surgeon can create a small hole in the skull to gently suction the blood through.
- Craniotomy: Larger hematomas or significant clots may require a larger section of the skull to be removed in order to successfully remove the blood.
There is also a non-invasive option available called CyberKnife Radiosurgery. It can be used to treat ICH by delivering doses of radiation to the affected area, with no need for incisions.
Treat ICH with Us
If you or a loved one might have an intracranial hemorrhage, seek treatment immediately. IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics can help. We serve the tri-state area with state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge technology, and compassionate care. To find out more or make an appointment, contact us today.