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A subdural haemorrhage occurs when bleeding starts under the lining of the brain, also known as the dura. This condition is also referred to as a subdural haematoma if the blood pools and forms a clot under the dura. The majority of cases are due to a traumatic event, such as a direct injury or blunt force to the head area.

When medical negligence has occurred and a subdural brain haemorrhage is not properly addressed, serious complications can result. If this happens, a subdural haemorrhage solicitor may be able to help you claim compensation for your injury and loss.


A subdural haemorrhage is the result of a traumatic head injury and can be classified as 'a chronic subdural haematoma' or 'an acute subdural haematoma'. A chronic subdural haematoma is caused when a minor head trauma results in slow bleeding in the subdural area. These injuries usually happen to older people who then show symptoms of confusion or problems walking. The onset of these symptoms is usually quite rapid and only a CT scan can verify the injury. An acute subdural haematoma occurs much more quickly and fills the space between the dura and the brain fast, thus compressing brain tissue.

Risk Factors

While an injury can occur at any time, common risk factors for a subdural haemorrhage include anticoagulation medication, head injuries (especially repeated injuries), being very young or old and at a higher risk for falling, and alcohol abuse.


There are a variety of symptoms that can present in those experiencing an acute subdural haematoma. These symptoms include: difficulty speaking, confusion, moderate to severe headaches, vomiting, lethargy, seizures, nausea, numbness, general weakness, changes in vision and loss of consciousness.

Infants may exhibit other symptoms such as a high pitched cry, excessive sleepiness, prolonged vomiting, irritability, increased head size, and problems with feeding.

In the event that you or someone you know has experienced this type of injury and was misdiagnosed or diagnosed with nothing more than a headache and later suffered a catastrophic result, it is in your best interest to consult with a medical negligence solicitor to start legal action to claim compensation.


Anytime there is a head injury, you should seek medical attention promptly. Doctors should order a complete neurological exam as well as various types of brain imaging scans. The best test to determine brain bleeding is a CT scan, as the blood will appear as a bright white area. MRIs may also show bleeding inside the skull.

If there has been any type of failure to diagnose or treat a subdural brain haemorrhage, a medical negligence solicitor can start a claim to seek compensation for your injuries.


Because a subdural haemorrhage is a serious matter, it should always be treated as an emergency. The most common course of action doctors take is to perform surgery in order to relieve pressure on the brain. In some cases, this can be as simple as drilling a small hole to allow the blood to escape. In other cases, a craniotomy may be needed to remove a larger portion of the skull in order to remove the blood clot manually.

Doctors may also prescribe medication to lower blood pressure, as well as corticosteroids and diuretics to reduce brain swelling. Seizure prevention medications, such as mannitol, may provide further benefits to prevent seizures as well as to reduce brain pressure.


The prognosis for a patient with a subdural haemorrhage depends a great deal on the size of the bleed, the location of the bleed and how quickly medical attention is administered. It may also depend on if there is other damage or injuries to the brain. Unfortunately, acute subdural haematomas have a high rate of mortality, while chronic and subacute subdural haematomas are often less radical. When the patient does survive, he or she will often require extensive medical care and rehabilitation in order to regain as much function as possible. Seizures are a quite common side effect but can be controlled with medication.

Side effects and complications of subdural haemorrhages include: brainstem hernias, coma, neurological problems, numbness, weakness, difficulty speaking and death.

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our subdural haemorrhage solicitors can help you take legal action if you or someone you know has been misdiagnosed or mistreated for their injuries. Contact our solicitors today to find out how we can help.

Subdural Haemorrhage Information

A subdural haematoma is also called a subdural haemorrhage and is a collection of blood that occurs on the surface of the brain, usually as a result of a serious injury to the head. Subdural haematoma can be acute, subacute or chronic. An acute subdural haematoma is very serious and involves a great deal of bleeding in a short period of time. The blood puts pressure on the brain very quickly and this can result in injury to the brain or brain herniation, which is often deadly.

A subdural haematoma can occur after a relatively minor injury, particularly in the elderly. A patient can go without obvious symptoms for several days or weeks and then show symptoms of subdural haematoma. This is when the condition is called a subacute or chronic subdural haematoma.

In a subdural haematoma, the bleeding comes from small veins located between the surface of the brain and the dura mater, the covering to the brain. The veins stretch and ultimately tear, leading to rapid bleeding. In the elderly, these veins are already stretched due to shrinkage of the brain and this is why a subdural haemorrhage is more common in this age group. In rare cases, a subdural haemorrhage can occur without an obvious trauma or other cause.

Things that increase the risk of getting a subdural haematoma include being on blood thinners, having a history of recurrent falls, chronically abusing alcohol, being in sports or other activities that result in repeated head injuries and being very young or perhaps very old.

There can be a variety of symptoms associated with a subdural haemorrhage. These include balance difficulties, headache, confusion, speech slurring or other abnormality of speech, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness or coma, lethargy, numbness of the body, new onset of seizures, double vision or other changes in vision and weakness. These symptoms are the most common symptoms in adults and children. Infants have their own set of signs and symptoms of subdural haemorrhage.

In infants, one can see a bulging fontanelle (the soft spots in the skull), difficulties in feeding, seizures (general or focal), a high pitched cry, lethargy or sleepiness, increased size of the head, vomiting, irritability and separation of the sutures of the head.

If you suspect you have a subdural haematoma, seek medical attention immediately. With elderly people, you need to be prepared with more subtle symptoms such as confusion and weakness. Your doctor will look at the cluster of symptoms and may order a CT scan of the head. A CT scan of the head shows blood really easily and you can find the location and size of the bleed. If herniation is imminent, this can be seen on the CT scan in some circumstances. An MRI scan of the head shows blood less obviously, but you can still diagnose a subdural haemorrhage on the basis of the MRI scan.

Subdural haematoma generally need emergency treatment. The most common treatment is surgery to the skull and brain so that the pressure is relieved from the brain. Emergency doctors can drill a small burr hole in the side of the brain overlying the haematoma so that blood and clot can drain out. In other cases, a big haematoma may need a craniotomy or a bigger hole cut out of the brain. The blood is then removed and the skull cap replaced.

Doctors also use medications to control subdural haematoma. There are steroids used to relieve inflammation, mannatol, which decreases the amount of liquid in the brain and shrinks swelling, and medications for seizures, such as Dilantin or phenytoin.

Complications of a subdural haematoma include brain herniation, which causes coma and death, seizures which last past the acute incident, temporary or permanent weakness or stroke-like symptoms. There can be difficulty concentrating, anxiety, chronic headaches and chronic dizziness. The overall prognosis depends on how big the subdural haematoma is, the location of the subdural haematoma and whether or not there is brain herniation. Acute subdural haemorrhages have the highest rates of injury or death. Subacute and chronic subdural haematoma generally have a better outcome, with complete resolution of their symptoms after the subdural haemorrhage is drained.



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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