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Subarachnoid brain haemorrhages occur in the area that is located between the thin membrane covering over the brain, and the brain itself. This area is referred to as the subarachnoid space. This type of bleed is quite serious and is caused by broken blood vessels in people with bleeding disorders or a direct trauma to the skull.

Subarachnoid haemorrhages can also occur because of aneurysms and make up about ten to fifteen of every ten thousand cases. Most people have this type of haemorrhage between the ages of twenty and sixty. Women are more prone to this condition than men.

While this type of haemorrhage can be bad enough, there are cases where medical negligence worsens the injury. In these cases, a medical negligence solicitor may be able to help you or your loved ones claim compensation for your injury and loss. Contact our subarachnoid haemorrhage solicitors for a free, no obligation consultation to see how we can help.


There are several things that can cause a subarachnoid haemorrhage. A head injury, a bleeding disorder, a cerebral aneurysm or an arteriovenous malformation can all lead to this serious medical issue. People who have to take blood thinners for other reasons are at a much higher chance of developing such a haemorrhage as compared to those who do not.

There are also several risk factors for developing such a bleed including smoking, high blood pressure, a family history of haemorrhages, polycystic kidney disease, connective tissue disease and fibromuscular dysplasia.


As is the case with other types of brain bleeds, there are several symptoms that can be attributed to a subarachnoid haemorrhage. Sudden severe headache pain is the most common symptom, as well as a feeling of something popping or snapping. In some cases there is a loss of consciousness and excessive lethargy. Some people also report mood changes, personality changes, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, stiffness in the neck, vision problems and seizures.

Physicians also note an arching of the back in haemorrhage patients, an increase in the size of one pupil, and drooping of the eyelids.

In some cases, doctors do not fully examine or understand the severity of the symptoms that a patient presents. When this happens catastrophic results can occur because patients are sometimes sent home with nothing more than a mild pain reliever. If this has happened to you or someone you know, a brain haemorrhage solicitor may be able to starting a medical negligence compensation claim on your behalf.


Physical examinations often yield similar results, including the common symptom of a stiff neck, as the blood has filled the subarachnoid area, larger pupils and even coma. Medical tests including CT scans of the head are ordered and analysed for areas of blood. Smaller bleeds may not be immediately seen, so physicians often order spinal taps to look for blood in the subarachnoid space. A cerebral angiography may also be used with contrast dye to show bleeds as well.


In most cases surgery is the only option to save the life of the patient with the haemorrhage. If the haemorrhage has occurred because of a traumatic injury, surgery will be required to reduce pressure on the brain and drain excess blood.

Following surgery, there will also need to be life support treatments such as intubation to assist with breathing and IV fluids. Medications will be administered to reduce blood pressure as well as to control seizures. Pain medication and anti-anxiety drugs may also be prescribed to ensure the patient is comfortable.

While surgery is the best possible treatment to save the patient's life, sometimes mistakes happen and the surgery causes symptoms to worsen or new problems to arise. In these cases, a medical negligence solicitor may be able to help you to start a compensation claim for damages relating to the injury.


When a patient receives prompt and adequate care, and if the bleed is small enough to not place the brain under too much pressure, there is great hope for a full recovery. If the haemorrhage is large or too much time has elapsed, permanent brain damage or death can result.

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our medical negligence solicitors cannot undo the harm that was done or bring back your loved one in the case of a tragic event. That being said, we can help you rebuild the pieces of your life and start a medical negligence compensation claim to help you secure your financial future. Our subarachnoid haemorrhage solicitors operate the risk free no win no fee* scheme and you do not have to fund or finance your claim as it proceeds. If the legal case is lost, you pay nothing. Contact us for a free, no obligation consultation to see how we can help.

Subarachnoid Haemorrhage Information

A subarachnoid haemorrhage is a bleeding inside the skull in the subarachnoid space. This is a space between the brain and the thin covering over the brain. A subarachnoid haemorrhage is particularly dangerous because the bleeding tends to be brisk so that there needs to be intervention as quickly as possible. Subarachnoid haemorrhages can be caused by arteriovenous malformations (AVM), cerebral aneurysms, bleeding disorders, blood thinners, head injury or an unknown cause.

When the injury is related to a fall, it is often in the elderly who fall and strike their head. Among young people, motor vehicle accidents are a major cause of subarachnoid haemorrhages. A subarachnoid haemorrhage due to cerebral aneurysm occurs in about 10-15 out of ten thousand people. It happens in younger people of the age 20-60 years.

Risk factors for subarachnoid haemorrhage include aneurysms in other places of the body, having fibromuscular dysplasia or other connective tissue diseases that affect blood vessel strength, having high blood pressure, having polycystic kidney disease or a smoking history. A strong family history of aneurysms could put you at risk for having an aneurysm or subarachnoid haemorrhage yourself.

If you have a subarachnoid haemorrhage, you often have the sudden onset of a severe headache that is often worse in the back of the head. Many people feel it is "the worst headache they have ever had". The individual may feel a popping or snapping sound in their head. They can also have a decreased level of consciousness, paralysis or loss of feeling, confusion or irritability, neck and shoulder pain, nausea and vomiting, seizures, difficulty dealing with light (photophobia) or double vision. Pupils can be of a different size and there can be a stiff back or neck.

A neurological and general exam can show signs and symptoms of subarachnoid haemorrhage. You can see an uneven pupil, evidence of irritation of the meninges or covering of the brain. If a subarachnoid haemorrhage is suspected, a CT scan of the head is ordered which shows blood around the brain very easily. A spinal tap can also be performed, which will show blood in the subarachnoid space in the spinal area. CT angiography can show the area of leakage and will be a resource for the neurosurgeon to know where to stop the bleeding during surgery, if it is necessary. An ultrasound can be used also to detect the spasms of damaged blood vessels, which can also guide the treatment.

The treatment goal is to stop the bleeding and save the life of the individual. Doctors must act fast to stop the bleeding and swelling in the brain. The doctor may do surgery to remove large collections of blood in the brain. If an aneurysm is involved, it must be clipped surgically in order to prevent it bleeding again. A craniotomy puts a hole in the skull and gets at the aneurysm, clipping it so it doesn't bleed any more. There is another procedure called an endovascular coiling procedure that coils a metal strip into the aneurysm so it clots and stops bleeding.

Doctors must also treat the individual's coma or decreased level of alertness by considering oxygen or intubation in the patient who can't breathe on their own. Drainage tubes may be necessary in the brain in order to decrease the pressure in the brain. The patient should be on strict bed rest, even if they are alert because being upright and active can increase the pressure within the brain. Stool softeners and laxatives can be used so they don't strain at the stool. The blood pressure should be kept to a minimum to control bleeding. Doctors often use calcium channel blockers to lessen spasms of the blood vessels.

The prognosis of having a subarachnoid haemorrhage depends on how fast a person gets treatment. Those of an older age and those with more severe symptoms do more poorly. It is possible to recover from a subarachnoid haemorrhage but a high percentage of people die or have severe sequelae from having a subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Complications include a repeat bleed-a very bad outcome for those with cerebral aneurysms. Other complications include seizure disorders, stroke symptoms, surgical complications or complications of medications. Possible Complications



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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here