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
Symptoms of a Brain Hemorrhage
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
- Loss of consciousness
Causes and Risk Factors for a Brain Hemorrhage
- 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.
Diagnosing a Brain Hemorrhage
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.
Treating a Brain Hemorrhage
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