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What is an Intraparenchymal Hematoma?

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  • Written By: L. Whitaker
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2016
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An intraparenchymal hematoma, also known as an intracerebral hematoma, is a potentially life-threatening condition in which traumatic injury causes blood to pool within the brain tissues. It can be caused externally by a head injury or internally by a variety of medical circumstances. Experts recommend that an individual who experiences serious cognitive or physical symptoms following any type of head injury should seek emergency medical assistance.

Hematoma refers to the pooling of blood within a localized area of the body. Intraparenchymal hematoma is frequently caused by traumatic head injury related to an accident or blow to the head, even one that does not seem serious at the time. Other potential causes related to medical conditions include aneurysms, brain tumors, encephalitis or other infections of the central nervous system, some autoimmune disorders, or pregnancy-related conditions such as eclampsia. Intraparenchymal hematoma can also be the result of the use of certain recreational drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, or some prescription medications, such as blood thinners.

Symptoms of intraparenchymal hematoma could be evident immediately after a head injury, or they could develop gradually over the following days or weeks. Initial symptoms might include a headache that gets progressively worse, vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, unequal pupil size, weakness on one side, signs of cognitive impairment, or an increase in blood pressure. Eventually, the individual might develop seizures or loss of consciousness.

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Intraparenchymal hematoma is diagnosed by the use of medical imaging, such as an MRI or CT scan. Treatment for this condition typically involves surgical removal of the pooled blood, with possible administration of anti-seizure medications after surgery and continuing for several months. After surgery, patients commonly experience attention problems, headache, anxiety, or sleep difficulties for some time during recovery. Patients could potentially recover much of their normal function within the first six months after surgery, although individual results will vary. Children typically recover more quickly than adults.

Individuals can attempt to minimize or prevent potentially dangerous head injuries in a variety of ways, including wearing seat belts in motor vehicles and utilizing helmets and other safety equipment during sports activities. Parents can reduce the risk of head injury in their children by monitoring their activities and blocking off areas that could cause a fall, such as steep stairways. Individuals with previous brain injuries should consider taking extra precautions to avoid a second injury during or after recovery. It is also recommended that people with a history of brain hematoma should not drink alcohol in excess, due to the increased risk of a second head injury.

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