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Spontaneous and rapid resolution of acute subdural hematoma in a 5-year-old child: A case report

 Department of Neurosurgery, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College & Hospital, Pimpri, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission03-Mar-2021
Date of Decision18-Jun-2021
Date of Acceptance19-Sep-2021
Date of Web Publication13-Jun-2023

Correspondence Address:
Prashant Punia,
Department of Neurosurgery, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College & Hospital, Pimpri, Pune 411018, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jpn.JPN_49_21



Subdural hematoma (SDH) following trauma is a common neurosurgical emergency but rapid and spontaneous resolution of the same is a rare phenomenon. Authors report a case of 5-year-old female child in whom spontaneous and rapid resolution of acute SDH was observed. The hematoma spontaneously resolved over a period of only 5 h. Only a handful of case reports exist on this phenomenon and various causes for rapid resolution have been reported to be dilution by cerebrospinal fluid and redistribution of hematoma. A hypodensity inside the hematoma along with improvement in neurological condition of the patient can point to the correct diagnosis. This case report is useful in making the neurosurgeon cognizant of this entity and make timely informed decisions based on radiology and clinical examination. Being forewarned is being forearmed.

Keywords: Rapid resolution of SDH, resolving SDH in children, spontaneous resolution of SDH

How to cite this URL:
Punia P, Chugh A, Gotecha S, Chhabra S. Spontaneous and rapid resolution of acute subdural hematoma in a 5-year-old child: A case report. J Pediatr Neurosci [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2023 Nov 30]. Available from: https://www.pediatricneurosciences.com/preprintarticle.asp?id=379142

   Introduction Top

Subdural hematoma (SDH) following trauma is a fairly common neurosurgical emergency associated with a high mortality rate of up to 60%.[1] Most commonly these hematomas are promptly subjected to surgical evacuation and spontaneous resolution of SDH is a rare phenomenon. Authors report a case of spontaneous resolution of acute traumatic SDH in a 5-year-old child in a short duration of 5 h. Probable underlying mechanisms for the same have been discussed.

   Case Report Top

A 5-year-old female child was brought to our hospital at 1930 h by her relatives with a history of road traffic accident 1 h back, that is, at 1830 h. The patient had a severe headache and two episodes of projectile vomiting since then. The patient’s pupils were symmetrical and reacting to light and her Glasgow Coma Scoring (GCS) was 12 at the time of presentation. After initial resuscitation, she was rushed for a plain computed tomography (CT) scan of the head at 2000 h. CT revealed a right frontoparietal SDH with a midline shift of 3 mm [Figure 1]. Considering the preserved level of consciousness and papillary symmetry, a decision was taken to conservatively manage the patient and repeat a scan after 6 h while monitoring her neurological status carefully. At the time of repeat CT scan, at 0100 h, the patient’s GCS had improved to 14 and her scan revealed near-total resolution of the previously seen hematoma along with a resolution of mass effect and compressive symptoms [Figure 2]. Conservative management was continued and the patient was discharged on the third day after a repeat CT scan showed no progression of hematoma.
Figure 1: Showing CT scan plain brain, axial view, showing hyperdense collection along the right frontoparietal region with mass effect on the ipsilateral ventricle. Time of CT, that is, 2021 h are shown (underlined)

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Figure 2: Showing CT brain plain, axial view, showing near-total resolution of SDH with a resolution of mass effect. Time of CT, that is, 0141 h are shown (underlined)

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   Discussion Top

A rapid collection of blood below the dura but above the brain itself is labeled as SDH. Unless the patient has irreversible brainstem signs or extremely poor general condition, it is a neurosurgical emergency and treatment consists mostly of the evacuation of hematoma and is derived from standard treatment protocols.[2] Generally, conservatively managed hematomas resolve gradually over a period of 2–3 weeks. Rarely, in a patient with SDH managed conservatively, a rapid resolution is seen. It is defined as a decrease in 50% of the volume of hematoma in 72 h.[3] The current case is exceptional and interesting by virtue of the extremely quick resolution of hematoma in 5 h. Only Koppen et al. have reported a rapid resolution time of 4 h which is less than the present case.

Rapid resolution of hematoma is a rare phenomenon and only a few case reports exist in the English literature. The entity was first reported in 1986[4] and several mechanisms have been put forward to explain the pathogenesis of the same. Hematoma washout by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) following a breach of subarachnoid space is a commonly accepted theory and it was suggested both by Nagao[4] and Niikawa.[5] They proposed that due to the mixing of CSF with hematoma, it is diluted, redistributed, and eventually washed out. This hypothesis is supported by Kato et al.[6] who proposed that presence of a low-density band within a hematoma is a pointer toward mixing of CSF with blood and that rapid resolution of SDH occurs via redistribution. A later retrospective study; however, found no statistical difference for the presence of a low-density band when they compared rapid and nonrapid resolution of SDH in 154 patients.[3] Acute brain swelling has also been proposed as a contributing factor toward rapid resolution and it has been postulated that in addition to redistribution, the swollen brain compresses the hematoma toward the cranial vault and assists in dilution and redistribution.

In the author’s opinion, dilution and redistribution played a part in the resolution of hematoma in our case. A hypodense area was noted inside the hematoma in our patient [Figure 3] and although it has been regarded as statistically insignificant by a few authors, the sign has been described in most case reports and series on this rare entity. Also, the study which downplays this sign is not free from retrospective bias.
Figure 3: Showing presence of hypodensity inside the hyperdense clot (arrow)

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Decision-making forms an essential and integral part of management strategy and is based on the clinical condition of the patient and radiology. In our case, neither the clinical condition nor the initial CT brain warranted surgery, and thus, a decision to closely monitor the patient and repeat the scan was taken. Although it has been deemed necessary to evaluate the progression of injury,[7] there is no universal guideline/consensus on the timing of a repeat CT brain. In actual practice, repeat scans range from 1 h to 23 h, with a median interval time of 6 h.[8] In our patient, a decision to repeat the scan early was taken keeping in mind the presence of hypodensity in the clot. The hypodensity could have been suggestive either of a hyperacute bleed or a connection with subarachnoid space and clarity on the same was needed to avoid prognostic uncertainty. Also, during that period, there was clinical improvement seen which gave a clue toward a better CT scan picture. Thus, early decision making is of paramount significance and decisions should be made based on the clinical condition of the patient supported by radiological evidence.

The case report is useful in making the neurosurgeon cognizant of the entity, make early decisions based on clinical condition and radiology, and also, possibly save the patient from the stress of surgery. Authors would stop short of recommending pathogenesis based on a single case report and a bigger, double-blind prospective study is the need of hour to define the variables for easy recognition of such patients. However, as the incidence of this entity is rare, it might be difficult to randomize the patients prospectively.

   Conclusion Top

The case report is useful in making the neurosurgeon cognizant of the entity, make early decisions based on clinical condition and radiology, and also, possibly save the patient from the stress of surgery. Being forewarned is being forearmed.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (name of institute/committee) and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Consent for publication

Taken they proposed a lower rate of comorbidities and prehospital anticoagulation as significant variables which contribute to rapid resorption of SDH. Both these variables were previously unrecognized and further research needs to affirm the same.

Availability of data and material

Not applicable.

Authors’ contributions

P.P. conceived and designed the study. A.C. helped in drafting the article. S.G. collection of data and final review.



Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Limitations of study

The study has the following limitations which mandate future studies:

  • -Small sample size

  • -Lack of control group

  • -Single center study.

   References Top

Massaro F, Lanotte M, Faccani G, Triolo C. One hundred and twenty-seven cases of acute subdural haematoma operated on. Correlation between CT scan findings and outcome. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 1996;138:185-91.  Back to cited text no. 1
Huang SH, Lee HM, Lin CK, Kwan AL, Howng SL, Loh JK. Rapid resolution of infantile acute subdural hematoma: a case report. Kaohsiung J Med Sci 2005;21:291-4.  Back to cited text no. 2
Brooke M, Patel A, Castro-Moure F, Victorino GP. Shedding new light on rapidly resolving traumatic acute subdural hematomas. J Surg Res 2017;219:122-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
Nagao T, Aoki N, Mizutani H, Kitamura K. Acute subdural hematoma with rapid resolution in infancy: case report. Neurosurgery 1986;19:465-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
Niikawa S, Sugimoto S, Hattori T, Ohkuma A, Kimura T, Shinoda J, et al. Rapid resolution of acute subdural hematoma – report of four cases. Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo) 1989;29:820-4.  Back to cited text no. 5
Kato N, Tsunoda T, Matsumura A, Yanaka K, Nose T. Rapid spontaneous resolution of acute subdural hematoma occurs by redistribution – two case reports. Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo) 2001;41:140-3.  Back to cited text no. 6
Hill EP, Stiles PJ, Reyes J, Nold RJ, Helmer SD, Haan JM. Repeat head imaging in blunt pediatric trauma patients: is it necessary? J Trauma Acute Care Surg 2017;82:896-900.  Back to cited text no. 7
Kreitzer N, Lyons M, Hart K, Lindsell CJ, Chung S, Yick A, et al. Repeat neuroimaging of mild traumatic brain-injured patients with acute traumatic intracranial hemorrhage: clinical outcomes and radiographic features. Academic Emergency Medicine 2014;21:1084-91.  Back to cited text no. 8


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]


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