Injuries to the Head and Brain

Head injury

Head injury can arise from blunt or penetrating trauma and result in direct injury at the impact site. Indirect injury may also be caused by movement of the brain within the skull, leading to contusions on the opposite side of the head from the impact, or disruptive injuries to axons and blood vessels from shearing or rotational forces as the head is accelerated and decelerated after the impact.

This leaflet and this leaflet have more information. 


The brain is free to move a little within the skull, and can thus be 'shaken' by a blow to the head. This shaking is called concussion.  This leaflet has more information: 


Cerebral contusions are bruises of the brain, usually caused by a direct, strong blow to the head. Cerebral lacerations are tears in brain tissue, caused by a foreign object or pushed-in bone fragment from a skull fracture. 

Extradural haematoma

An extradural haemorrhage (EDH) is a collection of blood in the potential space between the dura and the bone. Usually that bone is the skull. 'Extradural' means this kind of head injury occurs outside the dura matter beneath the skull (see the illustration below). The expanding haematoma compresses the brain beneath it. Please refer to this leaflet for more information 

Subdural haematoma

A subdural haematoma is a collection of clotting blood that forms in the subdural space. This is the space between two of the meninges, which form the protective lining that covers the brain. 'Subdural' is different from 'extradural' because the haematoma occurs beneath the dura matter due to injured veins (see the illustration below). It is a serious condition and emergency treatment may be needed. A CT scan can show a subdural haematoma. An operation to remove the haematoma may be needed. Many people with a small subdural haematoma can make a quick and full recovery.  Please refer to this leaflet for more information: 

Subarachnoid haemorrhage

Subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) is usually the result of bleeding from an aneurysm which is a bubble in the blood vessel due to a weakness in the blood vessel.  Increased pressure in the brain or high blood pressure can cause the bubble to burst causing bleeding in the brain.  This leaflet and this leaflet have more information. 


 A craniotomy is an operation to open the head in order to expose the brain. The word craniotomy means making a hole (-otomy) in the skull (cranium).  The operation is carried out by a neurosurgeon who specialises in surgery of the brain and spine. This leaflet has more information.