Brain Bleeds

Brain Hemorrhage or Bleed

A brain hemorrhage, or brain bleed, is a type of stroke. It is caused when an artery in the brain bursts and causes localized bleeding in the surrounding tissues, which then kills brain cells. This condition is the second most common form of stroke and can cause brain damage and be life-threatening. There are many causes of brain hemorrhages, but the two leading ones are high blood pressure and trauma to the head. Once brain cells die as a result of a brain bleed, they do not regenerate, potentially resulting in severe physical or mental disability.

Symptoms of a brain hemorrhage can include sudden severe headache, seizures with no previous history of them, nausea or vomiting, sudden tingling, weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg, decreased alertness, changes in vision, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, difficulty swallowing, difficulty writing or reading, loss of fine motor skills, coordination, or balance, an abnormal sense of taste, or a loss of consciousness. Swift action is crucial in the event of a brain hemorrhage, call 911 immediately if you suspect that you or someone else is experiencing one.

Chronic Subdural Hematomas

A chronic subdural hematoma (cSDH) is a collection of blood or fluid blood products on the brain’s surface, under the dura layer. Over a period of time, this leaked blood forms a clot, and the clot puts increasing pressure on the brain. This condition can occur spontaneously, or as the result of a head trauma, and is most common in older adults as a result of the normal brain shrinkage that occurs with aging. The shrinking of the brain stretches and weakens veins, so even the most minor head injury that the patient or their family doesn’t remember happening could cause a cSDH.

In addition to age, other risk factors for chronic subdural hematoma are heavy alcohol use, use of blood-thinners, aspirin, or anti-inflammatory medications over a long period of time, diseases that cause reduced blood clotting, and seizure activity, and the condition is more common in males. The exact symptoms that occur vary based on the size and location of the cSDH, but a majority of patients experience headaches. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, trouble walking, impaired memory, vision problems, seizures, speech problems, trouble swallowing, confusion, numb or weak face, arms, or legs, lethargy, weakness or paralysis, or coma. A chronic cSDH that puts severe pressure on the brain can cause permanent brain damage or even death.

If you or someone else shows symptoms of a chronic subdural hematoma, it is important to seek prompt medical care. If loss of consciousness or seizures occur, call 911 immediately.

Treatment and Management of Brain Hemorrhages and Swelling

Brain hemorrhage is a type of stroke that occurs when an artery in the brain bursts and causes localized bleeding in the surrounding tissues. A brain hemorrhage occurs when blood from trauma irritates brain tissues, causing swelling (known as cerebral edema). The pooled blood collects into a mass called a hematoma, and pressure on nearby brain tissue increases, reducing blood flow and killing brain cells. The most common causes of brain hemorrhages are head trauma, high blood pressure, aneurysm, blood vessel abnormalities, amyloid angiopathy, blood or bleeding disorders, liver disease, and brain tumors.

Symptoms of a brain hemorrhage can vary, depending on the location and severity of the bleeding, and the amount of tissue affected, and may develop suddenly or over time. This is a life-threatening condition, so it is important to call 911 immediately if you or someone else shows signs of a brain hemorrhage. These symptoms may include a sudden, severe headache, seizures with no previous history of seizures, weakness in an arm or leg, nausea or vomiting, decreased alertness or lethargy, changes in vision, tingling or numbness, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, difficulty swallowing, difficulty writing or reading, loss of fine motor skills, coordination, or balance, an abnormal sense of taste, or loss of consciousness.

Treatment for a brain hemorrhage depends on the location, cause, and extent. Early treatment includes stabilizing blood pressure and breathing. Surgery may be required to alleviate swelling and prevent bleeding, and certain medications such as painkillers, corticosteroids, diuretics, or anticonvulsants may also be prescribed.

Subdural Hematoma (Chronic/Reoccurring): Minimally Invasive Embolization Techniques

A subdural hematoma stems from a severe head injury. The result is bleeding and increased pressure on the brain which can be life threatening. Blood collects below the inner layer of the dura, the outer covering of the brain. Some halt and resolve on their own, while others require surgical drainage.

Chronic subdural hematoma can result from an accident that causes major head trauma, but it is more likely due to a minor injury. When a subdural hematoma is chronic, it causes small veins on the outer surface of the brain to tear which leads to bleeding in the subdural space. The elderly are more at risk for a chronic subdural hematoma due to brain shrinkage which makes these miniscule veins more susceptible to tearing.

When symptoms occur, they are dependent on the size and the location of the hematoma. These symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty Walking
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Memory Impairment
  • Vision Problems
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty Communicating
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness in the Face, Arms, or Legs
  • Weakness or Paralysis
  • Coma

Embolization of the subdural hematoma is a less invasive treatment option than surgery. A catheter is inserted into the middle meningeal artery which blocks the flow of blood to the hematoma. This method is found to be effective for individuals experiencing recurring chronic subdural hematoma.