Epidural Hematoma: What it is and Where it Occurs

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  • 0:09 Deadly Skull Fractures
  • 0:45 Epidural Hematoma
  • 1:39 Why does It Occur?
  • 2:45 Symptoms & Diagnotics
  • 3:43 Treatment & Prevention
  • 4:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

We'll go over something known as an epidural hematoma. This lesson will explain what it is, what may predispose an individual to get one, and how it is best avoided. We'll also explore the signs and symptoms, diagnostics, and treatments involved in this event.

Deadly Skull Fractures

If you're a proud parent of a boisterous little kid or opinionated teenager, were one yourself, or are one right now, then it's best you pay attention, as this lesson is a bit more specific to you. If you love to ride bicycles without a helmet, play contact sports, or like to jump off of rooftops into swimming pools to make a viral video, then this lesson is definitely for you. All of those can cause your skull to fracture, and while the skull fracture may be bad enough, what we're going to go over will kill you if left untreated.

What is an Epidural Hematoma?

If you miss the swimming pool you were supposed to jump into and crack your head against the pavement instead, then you may get something called an epidural hematoma, sometimes called an extradural hematoma. This is a condition that results in the pooling of blood between the skull and dura mater. The dura mater is the layer of the protective covering of the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges, which is closest to the skull.

The reason I was so focused on younger people in my intro is because in younger individuals the dura mater isn't as firmly attached to the skull as it is in older people. This predisposes young individuals to allow for the pooling of blood between these two structures more so than adults. That doesn't mean, however, that adults cannot develop this condition.

Why Does an Epidural Hematoma Occur?

Regardless, when your skull hits the pavement instead of the pool, it may fracture. The physical force of the skull breaking apart will tear apart the blood vessels running through the dura mater or skull.

Think of the skull as a piece of packing tape. The packing tape has string running through it that represents our blood vessels. If you start to tear open the packing tape as your skull would tear open during the fracture, then you're inevitably going to break some of the string along with the tape. Once the string or blood vessels tear apart, the blood will begin to rush out into the skull.

As the blood begins to pool inside the skull, it will begin to cause the pressure within the head to rise. There's only so much room inside your skull for the brain and cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds it. If blood now begins to gush in, then the pressure will build. Furthermore, the pooling of blood inside of tissues but outside of blood vessels, known as a hematoma, will also physically compress the brain.

Clinical Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnostics

The physical compression of the brain coupled with the rising pressure inside the head can lead to:

  • A severe headache
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Death

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