The term epidural hematoma means bleeding that takes place between the outer covering of the brain, known as the dura, and the inside of the skull. This can occur for a number of reasons, most often due to a skull fracture that occurs during adolescence or childhood. The bleeding tends to be more common in people who are young simply because the membrane that covers the brain is not attached to the skull as firmly as it will be when they become adults. Whenever there is a rupture of a blood vessel, such as an artery, in this area, an epidural hematoma will occur by bleeding into the skull and the dura.
What Causes the Epidural Hematoma?
The cause of the condition often stems from skull fractures, which are the most common type of severe head injury. Those who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents tend to be at a higher risk for developing this condition because there is a greater likelihood of a head injury. The bleeding causes a collection of blood, which is the hematoma, to collect and pool on the brain. This causes elevated pressure on the brain, and the increased pressure can cause more brain injuries.
If the condition does not receive proper and immediate treatment, it has the potential to cause severe and irreversible damage, and it can also cause a person to slip into a coma. In severe cases, it will result in death. Even though the injury might not appear as dangerous at first, it can progress quickly. It can go from causing feelings of fatigue to a coma and then death.
What Are the Symptoms?
The following are some of the most common symptoms that appear in people who have suffered an epidural hematoma. However, it is important to note that not all symptoms will appear for everyone, so visiting a doctor after any head injury is important. The most common symptoms include dizziness, confusion, an enlarged pupil in one eye, drowsiness, severe headaches, weakness, and nausea and vomiting. In many cases, there will be an obvious head injury as well, but that is not always the case.
The symptoms tend to start within a few minutes to a few hours after suffering from the head injury. Doctors will want to run a number of tests and exams when they are trying to determine the severity of the injury and the correct course of treatment. They may want to perform a CT scan, which can help them to confirm whether they are dealing with an epidural hematoma as well as the exact location so they can move forward with treatment.
Treatment for Epidural Hematoma
An epidural hematoma is an emergency and needs to have immediate treatment to help control the symptoms and prevent permanent damage, not to mention keep the patient alive. Many times, patients will have to undergo emergency surgery, as this is the fastest and most effective way of reliving pressure on the brain. The surgeons may drill a small hole in the head, which will allow the blood to drain. In the event of a large hematoma or clot, the doctors may need to remove part of the skull to perform the surgery. Patients may also be prescribed anticonvulsant medication as a means to prevent potential seizures. Without proper intervention by the part of medical professionals, the majority of patients who suffer from an epidural hematoma may not survive.
If a patient or their loved one notices any signs that could represent an epidural hematoma, it is important to go to the emergency room or call 911. Every minute counts when doctors are trying to counter the effects of the condition.