Intracerebral hemorrhage is a term for bleeding into the brain.
When blood leaks into the brain for any reason, it can have significant consequences. The brain controls many functions in the body. An intracerebral hemorrhage can damage the cells that control these functions, resulting in temporary or permanent disability or death.
The possible causes of intracerebral hemorrhage include:
Symptoms of an intracerebral hemorrhage depend on the location and amount of bleeding. They may include:
The history and physical exam are the first steps in diagnosis of intracerebral hemorrhage. X-ray tests may be done to show the location and amount of the blood in the brain. These tests may include:
These x-ray tests can show the location and amount of the blood in the brain.
Proper control of high blood pressure with medications can help prevent some intracerebral hemorrhages. Avoiding cocaine can also help prevent this condition. A person who takes anticoagulant medications for long periods of time must be monitored. Many cases cannot be prevented.
Intracerebral hemorrhage can cause permanent neurologic damage. A person may be unable to perform self-care activities, walk, or talk normally.
An intracerebral hemorrhage is not contagious, and poses no risks to others.
Intracerebral hemorrhage is a severe condition requiring prompt medical attention. Treatment goals include lifesaving interventions, supportive measures, and control of symptoms. Treatment depends on the location, extent, and cause of the bleeding. Often, treatment cannot reverse the damage that has been done.
A craniotomy is sometimes done to remove blood, abnormal blood vessels, or a tumor. Medications may be used to reduce swelling, prevent seizures, lower blood pressure, and control pain.
Surgery carries a risk of further bleeding, infection, allergic reaction to the anesthesia, or even death. Side effects of medications vary, but may include allergic reactions.
A person with an intracerebral hemorrhage may recover completely, have permanent neurologic injury, or even die. The care after treatment depends on the person's needs and condition.
After initial diagnosis and treatment of an intracerebral hemorrhage, measures to correct or monitor the underlying cause of the bleeding may be taken. For example, a person's high blood pressure may be watched closely and treated aggressively to prevent a second bleeding episode.
Author:Adam Brochert, MD
Editor:Duff, Ellen, BA
Reviewer:Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 1998, Fauci et al.