A subdural haematoma is a serious condition where blood collects between the skull and the surface of the brain. It's usually caused by a head injury.

Symptoms of a subdural haematoma can include:

  • a Headaches that keeps getting worse
  • feeling and being sick
  • confusion
  • personality changes, such as being unusually aggressive or having rapid mood swings
  • feeling drowsy
  • loss of consciousness

The symptomscan develop soon after a severe head injury (acute subdural haematoma), or very occasionally a few days or weeks after a more minor head injury (subacute or chronic subdural haematoma).

Go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department , or dial 999 to request an ambulance.

If you develop the symptoms above any time after a minor head injury, you should also go to your nearest A&E department or call 999 for an ambulance as soon as possible.

A subdural haematoma can be very serious and needs to be assessed as quickly as possible.

Blood escapes from the blood vessel, leading to the formation of a blood clot (haematoma) that places pressure on the brain and damages it.

Head injuries that cause subdural haematomas are often severe, such as those from a car crash, fall or violent assault. However, minor bumps to the head can also lead to a subdural haematoma in a few cases.

A minor head injury is more likely to lead to a subdural haematoma if you're over 60 years of age, taking blood-thinning medication such as warfarin , or have a history of alcohol misuse .

The two most widely used surgical techniquesfor subdural haematomas are:

  • craniotomy a section of the skull is temporarily removed so the surgeon can access and remove the haematoma
  • burr holes a small hole is drilled into the skull and a tube is inserted through the hole to help drain the haematoma

In a few cases, very small subdural haematomas may be carefully monitored first to see if they heal without having an operation.

Read moreabout treatingsubdural haematomas .


A subdural haematoma is a serious condition thatcarries a high risk of death, particularly in older people and those whose brain was severely damaged.

Acute subdural haematomas are the most serious type because they're often associated with significant damage to the brain. Those who survive an acute subdural haematoma maytake a long time to recover and may be left withphysical and mental disabilities.

The outlook is generally better for subacute and chronic haematomas. Most people who are fit enough to have surgery eventually make a full recovery. However,because many people with these types of haematoma are older, they may be too frail to have treatment.


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016