Subarachnoid hemorrhage, or subarachnoid hematoma, is a type of intracranial bleeding which occurs in the subarachnoid space (or cavity) of the brain, between the arachnoid membrane and the pia matter surrounding the brain.
It is defined as an extra-axial hemorrhage – bleeding inside the skull, but outside of the brain tissue.
Other types of extra-axial hemorrhages include:
Symptoms of Subarachnoid Hematoma
People suffering from subarachnoid hematoma most often complain of a severe headache that develops within seconds or minutes (also known as thunderclap headache, or ”feeling like being kicked in the head”).
Other symptoms include:
- Pulsating headache toward the back of the head,
- Neck stiffness,
- Hemiparesis (weakness in one side of the body),
- Rise in Intracranial Pressure,
- Loss of consciousness,
About 1/3 of people with subarachnoid bleeding display no symptoms other than a headache.
Causes of Subarachnoid Hematoma
Subarachnoid bleeds may occur in people who have suffered a head injury. The risk of subarachnoid hematoma is higher in case of a traumatic brain injury.
If the victim experiences deteriorating consciousness, or a loss of consciousness, the chances for a complete recovery are slim.
If a subarachnoid hematoma occurs spontaneously, it is an 85% chance it was caused by a rupture of a cerebral aneurysm. This happens when a flaw (weakness) in the wall of a brain artery becomes enlarged, usually in the circle of Willis and its branches.
The best way to detect a subarachnoid hemorrhage is to perform a CT scan.
Subarachnoid hematomas can be misdiagnosed for intracerebral hematomas, in which bleeding occurs within the brain itself (these are twice as common as subarachnoid).
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