Epidural hematoma is a form of traumatic brain injury that’s marked by bleeding that occurs within the inside of the skull, the dura (outer covering of the brain), and sometimes in the spinal column. Epidural hematoma can sometimes lead to the development of cerebral palsy. It’s considered a serious, life-threatening injury that requires immediate medical treatment.
More About Epidural Hematoma
An epidural hematoma occurs when a blood vessel (usually an artery) ruptures. This can happen when a skull fracture develops during a childhood accident, but can also occur shortly before, during, or after childbirth if an infant experiences a stroke. Babies are prone to having strokes if their mothers have an infection or preeclampsia.
Medical mistakes can also lead to babies developing epidural hematoma. It’s not the most common cause of the injury, but it can happen when doctors fail to use birth assisting tools properly or fail to pull an infant out correctly during childbirth (generally the baby is in the breech position when this happens).
The Connection Between Cerebral Palsy and Epidural Hematoma
Infants who develop epidural hematoma run the risk of oxygen loss, which is linked to a risk of brain damage, which in turn is linked to cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, the symptoms of the disorder usually aren’t readily apparent. In fact, it may take several years before an official diagnosis of cerebral palsy is found.
If your baby experienced an epidural hematoma, keep an eye out for possible cerebral palsy symptoms. Some symptoms are more apparent than others such as spastic movements, but other signs and symptoms to look out for include,
- Developmental delays
- Speech difficulties
- Difficulties grasping small objects
- Excessive drooling
- Varied muscle tone that can change from stiff to floppy
- Walking difficulties
- Hand curling inward towards the body
Keep in mind that these symptoms don’t automatically mean that your child has cerebral palsy. The only way to get a true diagnosis is to tell your doctor about any and all symptoms that your child displays. Only a physician can make a true diagnosis of cerebral palsy.
Epidural Hematoma Treatment and Symptoms
Before treatment begins, a physician will order a neurological exam to see if there’s an increase in intracranial pressure. Increased intracranial pressure indicates an emergency situation and treatment must start immediately, which includes emergency surgery to reduce the pressure and reduce the risk of developing more brain injuries.
Other forms of treatment include medications to help control symptoms and side effects. Seizure medications may be needed, as seizures is a common symptom. Additional symptoms include:
- Drowsiness and lethargy
- Enlarged pupils
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Head pain (which is hard to determine with infants)
- Fussiness and irritability
- Feeding problems
- Scalp swelling
Epidural Hematoma Prognosis
Epidural hematoma is a life-threatening condition and if not treated in a timely manner, it can be fatal. If treatment begins in time, the long-term outlook will depend on the patient’s Pediatric Glasgow Coma Scale (PGCS), which works as an early predictor to see what, if any, future problems may manifest.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 29% of infant deaths occur due to head trauma, but this will depend on how severe the trauma is. Other long-term issues may include seizures, cortical blindness, and migraines.