Intracerebral hemorrhage

Intracerebral hemorrhage

Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), also known as cerebral bleed, intraparenchymal bleed, and hemorrhagic stroke, or haemorrhagic stroke, is a sudden bleeding into the tissues of the brain, into its ventricles, or into both. It is one kind of bleeding within the skull and one kind of stroke. Symptoms can include headache, one-sided weakness, vomiting, seizures, decreased level of consciousness, and neck stiffness. Often, symptoms get worse over time. Fever is also common.

Causes include brain trauma, aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, and brain tumors. The largest risk factors for spontaneous bleeding are high blood pressure and amyloidosis. Other risk factors include alcoholism, low cholesterol, blood thinners, and cocaine use. Diagnosis is typically by CT scan. Other conditions that may present similarly include ischemic stroke.

Treatment should typically be carried out in an intensive care unit. Guidelines recommend decreasing the blood pressure to a systolic of 140 mmHg. Blood thinners should be reversed if possible and blood sugar kept in the normal range. Surgery to place a ventricular drain may be used to treat hydrocephalus, but corticosteroids should not be used. Surgery to remove the blood is useful in certain cases.

Cerebral bleeding affects about 2.5 per 10,000 people each year. It occurs more often in males and older people. About 44% of those affected die within a month. A good outcome occurs in about 20% of those affected. Intracerebral hemorrhage, a type of hemorrhagic stroke, was first distinguished from ischemic strokes due to insufficient blood flow, so called “leaks and plugs”, in 1823.

Signs and symptoms

People with intracerebral bleeding have symptoms that correspond to the functions controlled by the area of the brain that is damaged by the bleed. Other symptoms include those that indicate a rise in intracranial pressure caused by a large mass putting pressure on the brain.

Intracerebral bleeds are often misdiagnosed as subarachnoid hemorrhages, due to the similarity in symptoms and signs. A severe headache followed by vomiting is one of the more common symptoms of intracerebral hemorrhage. Collapsing is another symptom. Some people may experience continuous bleeding from the ear. Some patients may also go into a coma before the bleed is noticed.