What Are Microbleeds?

What Are Microbleeds?

Recently, researchers announced that they were able to detect the existence of microbleeds using advanced imaging techniques. These microbleeds often show up following a head injury; however, they are often not detected on initial imaging modalities. When someone suffers a blow to the head, the doctor will typically order an imaging scan as rapidly as possible so they can begin the treatment process and improve the patient’s prognosis. While speed is essential, the first imaging scan ordered by doctors is the CT scan.

A CT scan can be thought of as an x-ray taken in three dimensions. A CT scan is useful for detecting bone fractures and large brain bleeds; however, it cannot detect microbleeds. Even though they aren’t detected, these bleeds still have the potential to cause serious health problems for a patient. Now, researchers believe they have found a way to detect them.

The Dangers of Brain Bleeds

A traumatic brain injury can take many forms. These injuries can present as skull fractures, soft tissue injuries, cerebral contusions, and brain bleeds. A brain bleed is among the most dangerous complications that might stem from a blow to the head.

If someone starts to bleed inside the skull, this liquid is entering a closed space. As a result, the pressure inside the skull starts to build. As the pressure continues to build, this can cause the brain tissue itself to begin to shift. This is referred to as a brain herniation, which can cause severe, irreparable damage to massive groups of neurons. In many cases, brain herniation can be fatal.

The Ability to Detect Microbleeds

In order to prevent a brain herniation from developing, it is important to identify brain bleeds as quickly as possible. This means detecting microbleeds. Using advanced imaging techniques, doctors believe they can detect these small bleeds, allowing their doctors to intervene.

In a research study performed on more than 400 adults who had experienced a head injury and visited an emergency department, more than half of these individuals had evidence of a microbleed. These microbleeds were detected using an advanced MRI scan within two days of the initial injury. These tiny bleeds showed up as tiny dark spots (called punctate lesions). The most common location for these bleeds to show up was the frontal lobe. Doctors believe these bleeds can make a difference in the clinical outcome of patients who have suffered a TBI.

The Importance of Tiny Brain Bleeds

It has been clear to doctors for a long time that large brain bleeds can be fatal if left untreated. On the other hand, the role of these tiny brain bleeds has been unclear. The researchers continued to follow patients from the research study who had microbleeds diagnosed with brain imaging scans. The researchers found that the individuals who had these tiny bleeds were far more likely to have long-term disabilities than those who did not. The researchers graded the patients’ levels of disability using an objective scale.

The doctors believe this new MRI system has the potential to help numerous patients who suffer a brain injury every year. While the CT scan still has a role in the emergency department, it is also important to perform an MRI scan once the patient has stabilized. An MRI produces a higher level of clarity and may be able to detect even the smallest of brain bleeds, helping doctors treat their patients appropriately.

Sacramento Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Brain Injury Lawyer. Microbleeds can be a serious issue following a blow to the head. If someone you care about has sustained a significant brain injury due to the negligence of another person or entity, please call me by using (916) 921-6400 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400.

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Citation of Picture: The image used at the top of this article was found first at Pixabay.com. The image has been printed at this location with the guidance of the Creative Commons License.

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