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Subdural Hematoma

Subdural Hematoma is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Classification of subdural hematoma (SDH):
    • Acute: Diagnosis within the 1st 3 days
    • Subacute: Diagnosis 3 days–3 wk
    • Chronic: Diagnosis after 3 wk
  • CT description:
    • Rarely crosses midline
    • Does cross suture lines
    • Inner margins are often seen to be irregular.
  • Acute:
    • Most commonly due to acceleration–deceleration forces and less commonly from direct trauma
    • Sagittal movement of the head causes stretch of parasagittal bridging veins.
    • Other bleeding sites include:
      • Laceration of dura
      • Venous sinus injury
      • Cortical arteries
      • Nontraumatic injuries: Intracerebral aneurysm rupture, arteriovenous malformation, coagulation disorder, arterial HTN, drug or alcohol abuse
  • Chronic:
    • Encapsulated hematoma most likely caused by repeated small hemorrhages of bridging veins.


  • Acute:
    • Most common type of intracranial hematoma (66–70%)
    • Occurs most commonly at cerebral complexities > falx cerebri > tentorium cerebelli
    • Peak incidence 15–24 yr, 2nd peak >75 yr
    • Represents 26–63% of blunt head injury
    • Motor vehicle crash (MVC) is most common cause overall.
    • Falls and assault more commonly result in isolated SDH (72%) than do MVCs (24%).
    • Elderly patients and those with seizure disorders are at increased risk.
    • Mortality is related to presenting signs and symptoms as well as comorbidities:
      • Mortality is 50% for age >70
      • Less than 1/2 present as simple extra-axial collection (22% mortality rate)
      • ∼40% of patients will have complicated SDH: Parenchymal laceration or intracerebral hematoma (mortality rate >50%)
      • 3rd group associated with contusion (30% mortality rate with functional recovery of 20%)
  • Coagulopathy: INR >2 increases risk of bleed ×2, INR >3 is associated with larger initial volume and increased expansion
  • Chronic:
    • Most common in babies or elderly with atrophy:
      • Associated with infarction in underlying brain
  • 75% of patients are >50
  • <50% have history of trauma
  • 50% are alcoholic
  • Epilepsy and shunting procedures

Pediatric Considerations
  • May occur secondary to trauma at birth
  • Nonaccidental trauma more common

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Subdural Hematoma." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307585/all/Subdural_Hematoma.
Subdural Hematoma. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307585/all/Subdural_Hematoma. Accessed April 25, 2019.
Subdural Hematoma. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307585/all/Subdural_Hematoma
Subdural Hematoma [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 25]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307585/all/Subdural_Hematoma.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Subdural Hematoma ID - 307585 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307585/all/Subdural_Hematoma PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -