An epidural hematoma can occur when an accident victim hits his head in a crash. The jolt causes the brain to crash into the side of the skull, tearing a blood vessel. The blood leaks out slowly into the space between the dura mater—the protective tissue that encases the brain—and the skull, where it forms a clot. This clot, or hematoma, puts pressure on the brain and pushes it against the side of the skull. If left untreated, the accident victim may suffer brain damage or even death.
Trauma doctors call this injury “talk and die syndrome” because patients may walk away from an accident seemingly uninjured—talking and feeling fine. Minutes or hours later, they experience headache, blurred vision, vomiting, or seizures, before losing consciousness.
This type of injury is a medical emergency, but some patients refuse medical treatment—thinking that they are fine. However, if treated promptly, many patients recover with no lasting ill effects.
When a doctor suspects an epidural hematoma, he will perform a neurological assessment and a physical examination as well as other diagnostic tests—which may include blood work, an EEG, CT scan, MRI, or X-Rays. Treatment varies, depending on the severity of the injury.
Treating an Epidural Hematoma
Following are the most common treatments for an epidural hematoma:
- Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce intracranial pressure.
- Non-surgical aspiration of a small clot using suction through a small burr hole in the skull.
- Surgery, known as an open craniotomy, to suture the blood vessel that is bleeding and remove the blood clot.
When the accident victim receives prompt treatment at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center or another Rockford-area hospital, the outcome is generally quite good. If you have lost a loved one in an accident, contact our office—we will answer all of your questions during a confidential and free consultation.