What is an intraparenchymal hematoma?

An intraparenchymal hematoma, also known as an intracerebral hematoma, is a life-threatening condition in which traumatic injury causes blood to pool within brain tissues. It can be caused externally by a head injury or internally by a variety of medical circumstances. Experts recommend that a person experiencing severe cognitive or physical symptoms after any type of head injury seek emergency medical assistance.

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

Symptoms of intraparenchymal hematoma may be apparent immediately after a head injury, or they may develop gradually over the following days or weeks. Initial symptoms may include progressively worsening headache, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, unequal pupil size, weakness on one side, signs of cognitive decline, or an increase in blood pressure. Eventually, the individual may develop seizures or loss of consciousness.

Intraparenchymal hematoma is diagnosed through the use of medical imaging, such as an MRI or CT scan. Treatment for this condition usually involves surgical removal of the pooled blood, with possible administration of anti-seizure medications after surgery and continuing for several months. After surgery, patients often experience attention problems, headaches, anxiety, or difficulty sleeping for some time during recovery. Patients may regain much of their normal function within the first six months after surgery, although individual results will vary. Children generally recover faster than adults.

People can try to minimize or prevent potentially dangerous head injuries in a number of ways, including wearing seat belts in motor vehicles and wearing helmets and other safety gear during sports activities. Parents can reduce their children's risk of head injuries by monitoring their activities and blocking off areas that could cause a fall, such as steep stairs. People 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 not drink alcohol to excess, due to the increased risk of a second head injury.

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