What experts say about blood clots on brain

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez is undergoing surgery Tuesday to relieve a subdural hematoma causing pressure on her brain. Here are some details about this condition:

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SYMPTOMS: Depending on the size and location, a hematoma may cause confusion; memory loss; difficulty speaking, swallowing or walking; drowsiness; headaches; seizures; or weakness or numbness of the arms, legs or face.

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DIAGNOSIS: Problem can be discovered when doctors check patient’s balance, coordination, mental functions, sensation and strength. But because symptoms are often subtle, computer scan of head or magnetic resonance imaging exam may be necessary.

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TREATMENT: Surgery may be necessary to reduce or prevent permanent brain damage. This may include drilling small holes in skull to relieve pressure and suction out fluid. Large hematomas or solid blood clots may require opening section of the skull, which is called a craniotomy.

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PROGNOSIS: Between 80 percent and 90 percent of patients have significant brain function improvement after surgery, but recovery can be prolonged and incomplete. Patients may need drugs to control or prevent seizures for up to a year, with symptoms including amnesia, attention difficulty, anxiety, sleep problems and headaches. Most adults recover within six months, but some patients may need further surgery if the fluid returns.

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