An epidural hematoma is bleeding of the brain that occurs between the dura, the protective membrane of the brain, and the skull.
Most often the result of a traumatic brain injury during birth, an epidural hematoma is caused when a blood vessel of the skull is damaged, causing the vessel to bleed until blood builds up and a hematoma made up of damaged blood cells is formed.
The Dangers of Epidural Hematoma
An epidural hematoma is a serious health problem because if it isn’t noticed and treated, the hematoma can cause a host of problems, including death.
Because it is important to quickly diagnose epidural hematoma, it’s also important to recognize the symptoms.
The symptoms of epidural hematoma include:
- Lethargy and drowsiness.
- Fussiness that may indicate pain.
- Enlarged pupils.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Problems with feeding.
- Swelling of the scalp.
Each of these symptoms indicates increased cranial pressure, which can lead to brain damage without emergency surgery.
Left to keep bleeding, a hematoma can cause the brain to become compressed, triggering brain damage that often leads to cerebral palsy.
A bleeding hematoma can also put pressure on nerves of the spinal cord, causing damage.
Additionally, the cluster of damaged blood cells have the potential to block a blood vessel, leading to infant stroke.
When a stroke occurs, blood – and therefore oxygen – is cut off from the brain, resulting in damage to the neurons that control muscles and muscle movement and, in many cases, causing cerebral palsy.
Failure to diagnose and treat an epidural hematoma can lead to infant stroke or a spontaneous hemorrhage, both of which can cause permanent brain damage in areas of the brain that control motor and sometimes cognitive skills.
Even if epidural hematomas are treated, medical problems including paralysis, weakness, chronic headaches and incontinence can result. Too, cerebral palsy is still a risk, even if surgical intervention occurred.
Most Common Epidural Hematoma Causes
While there are several things that can cause an epidural hematoma, many are related to medical error during delivery.
Negligent acts that can lead to epidural hematomas include:
- The improper use of assisted birthing devices including forceps or a vacuum extraction tool. Damage can include skull fractures that can cause a bone fragment to open a blood vessel of the skull, causing bleeding until a hematoma forms.
- A failure to properly pull a child out during a breech or other birth complication, which can cause bleeding on the brain.
- The miscalculation of either a baby’s size or the mother’s pelvis. When a baby has difficulty passing through the birth canal, the pressure can lead to hemorrhaging that causes an epidural hematoma.
There are also some risk factors associated with epidural hematoma, including blood clotting complications of the mother or child, blood pressure problems for either the mother or child, including the high blood pressure associated with preeclampsia, and premature births.
Symptoms of Epidural Hematoma Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy (CP) caused by epidural hematoma is usually diagnosed after certain developmental milestones are not being met, sometimes over the course of years.
There are certain symptoms associated with epidural hematoma CP, however, including:
- Spastic, jerky movements and a lack of coordination.
- Failure to meet important developmental milestones like including smiling, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and walking.
- Difficulty holding objects.
- Muscle tone that fluctuates between stiff and slack.
- Difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling.
- Favoring one side of the body.
- Difficulties with speech and communication development.
- Difficulty walking, including walking with a stiff, wide gait or walking slowly.
My Child Suffered an Epidural Hematoma at Birth. What Should I Do?
When an epidural hematoma occurs, it is up to medical professionals to recognize the symptoms and treat the hematoma before it leads to brain damage.
When doctors fail due to an act of negligence, they should be held liable for the emotional and monetary costs of the injury.
That’s why contacting a birth injury attorney is such an important part of your journey.
Although medical malpractice cases can be difficult due to laws in place that protect medical professionals and the large legal teams usually associated with medical malpractice insurance, we will will aggressively fight to secure a fair settlement in your case.
We will help confirm if the quality of care you received contributed to an epidural hematoma, and ultimately a brain-damaging stroke, by examining your medical records to determine if your doctor properly monitored your baby after delivery, if he or she failed to recognize symptoms of epidural hematoma and if your baby suffered a stroke as a result.
Our attorneys can provide expert witnesses to help prove your case, making it easier to negotiate with an insurance company or win over a jury in court.
Your consultation is free, and you won’t pay any fees unless we secure a settlement in your case.