Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Diagnosing an intracranial hematoma can be difficult because individuals may seem fine after an injury. However, doctors generally presume that the progressive loss of consciousness after a head injury is caused by a hemorrhage inside the skull until proved otherwise.

Imaging techniques are the best ways to define the position and size of a hematoma. These include:

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan uses a sophisticated X-ray machine linked to a computer to produce detailed images of your brain. You lie still on a movable table that's guided into what looks like a large doughnut where the images are taken. CT is the most commonly used imaging scan to diagnose intracranial hematomas.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. An MRI scan is done using a large magnet and radio waves to make computerized images. During an MRI scan, you lie on a movable table that's guided into a tube, or tunnel. MRIs generally aren't used as often as CT scans in the diagnoses of intracranial hematomas because MRIs take longer to perform and aren't as available.
June 25, 2014

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