Diagnosis

Diagnosing an intracranial hematoma can be difficult because people with a head injury can seem fine. However, doctors generally assume that a hemorrhage inside the skull is the cause of progressive loss of consciousness after a head injury until proved otherwise.

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

  • CT scan. This 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.
  • MRI scan. This 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. MRIs aren't used as often as CT scans to diagnose intracranial hematomas because MRIs take longer to perform and aren't as available.
  • Angiogram. If there is concern about a possible bulge in a blood vessel (aneurysm) of the brain or other blood vessel problem, an angiogram might be necessary to provide more information. This test uses X-ray and a special dye to produce pictures of the blood flow in the blood vessels in the brain.
July 13, 2017
References
  1. Traumatic brain injury: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Hope-Through. Accessed March 23, 2017.
  2. Traumatic brain injury. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/traumatic-brain-injury-tbi/traumatic-brain-injury. Accessed March 26, 2017.
  3. McBride W. Subdural hematoma in adults: Etiology, clinical features and diagnosis. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 23, 2017.
  4. McBride W. Subdural hematoma in adults: Prognosis and management. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 23, 2017.
  5. Karibe H, et al. Surgical management of traumatic acute subdural hematoma in adults: A review. Neurologia Medico-Chirurgica. 2014;54:887.
  6. McBride W. Intracranial epidural hematoma in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 23, 2017.
  7. Naidech A. Intracranial hemorrhage. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 2011;184:998.