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.