Brain Hemorrhage

A brain hemorrhage is a type of stroke. It occurs when bleeding into the brain kills brain cells.

It can occur as bleeding:

  • Inside the brain
  • Between the brain and the membranes that cover it
  • Between the layers of the brain's covering
  • Between the skull and the covering of the brain


Signs of bleeding inside the skull tend to come on rapidly and include:

  • A sudden headache
  • Steadily increasing neurologic losses such as weakness, inability to move, numbness, loss of speech or vision and confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness


Causes and Risk Factors

These include:

  • Head injuries - For people under the age of 50, this is the most common cause of bleeding inside the skull.
  • Abnormalities in blood vessels - in and around the brain, such as an arteriovenous malformation.  These may be present from birth. They are only found if symptoms develop.
  • Aneurysm - This is a weakening in a blood vessel wall that swells. It can burst and bleed into the brain leading to a stroke.
  • High blood pressure - High blood pressure over a long time can weaken blood vessel walls.
  • Amyloid angiopathy - This is an abnormality in the blood vessel walls. It occurs more often as we age. It may cause many small, unnoticed bleeds before causing a large one.


Doctors hearing the symptoms a patient has may strongly suspect bleeding inside the skull.

This may be confirmed using a computed tomography (CT) scan of the brain. If not, a spinal tap can be used to confirm or rule out subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding between the layers of the covering of the brain). A spinal tap may also be needed if infection is suspected. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT angiogram and/or contrast angiography may be needed to complete the diagnosis and help doctors to decide on the proper treatment.



Treatment for bleeding inside the skull varies, depending on what caused it, where it is and how large it is.

Treatment may include:

  • Diagnostic radiology
  • Interventional radiology
  • Microsurgical techniques can be used to treat abnormal or leaky vessels
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