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Subdural Hematoma

Treatment of Subdural Hematoma

Treatment of subdural hematomas depends on their severity. Treatment can range from watchful waiting to aggressive brain surgery.

In small subdural hematomas with mild symptoms, doctors may recommend no specific treatment other than observation. Repeated head imaging tests are often performed to demonstrate the subdural hematoma is improving.

More severe or dangerous subdural hematomas require surgery to reduce the pressure on the brain. Surgeons can use various techniques to treat subdural hematomas:

Burr hole trephination. A hole is drilled in the skull over the area of the subdural hematoma, and the blood is suctioned out through the hole.

Craniotomy. A larger section of the skull is removed, to allow better access to the subdural hematoma and reduce pressure. The removed skull is replaced shortly after the procedure.

Craniectomy. A section of the skull is removed for an extended period of time, to allow the injured brain to expand and swell without permanent damage. Craniectomy is not often used to treat subdural hematoma.

People with severe subdural hematomas are often seriously ill, requiring machine-supported breathing and other forms of life support.

If a person has a bleeding problem or is taking blood thinners, measures should be taken to improve blood clotting. This may include giving medicines or blood products, and reversal of any blood thinners, when possible. Other medications to help reduce swelling or pressure in the brain or control seizures may also be used.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on August 31, 2012

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