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Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

About Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

A subarachnoid hemorrhage is a condition in which a blood vessel in the brain bursts, causing blood to fill the space between the brain and the tissues that cover it. The name for this area is the subarachnoid space, and it acts as a cushion that protects the brain from injury.

A subarachnoid hemorrhage is technically a rare type of hemorrhagic stroke that may occur as a result of either a traumatic head injury or a brain aneurysm. Regardless of the cause, a subarachnoid hemorrhage is often a life-threatening condition. It requires immediate medical attention to stop the bleeding, usually followed by additional treatment once you are in stable condition.

Symptoms of a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

The most common symptom of a subarachnoid hemorrhage you may experience is a severe headache that may feel worse toward the back of the head. In fact, patients often describe it as the most excruciating headache they have ever had. If you have experienced a subarachnoid hemorrhage, it may have been accompanied by some of the following common symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Vision loss
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain

Diagnosing a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

If your doctor has diagnosed you with a subarachnoid hemorrhage, he or she likely first performed a physical exam. He or she may have then completed or scheduled one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: Also called a CAT scan, this exam provides a detailed look at any area of the body. When a doctor suspects a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a CT scan can detect the blood in the subarachnoid space.
  • Lumbar puncture: If the CT scan does not detect bleeding in the brain, the doctor will put a hollow needle into the subarachnoid space of the spine to determine if there is blood within the cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This diagnostic test uses radio frequency waves, magnets and computer technology to get detailed pictures of soft tissue and detect bleeding in the brain.
  • Angiogram: When you have an angiogram, your doctor will put a catheter into an artery and then inject contrast dye into the blood to see how it flows through your brain.

At Neurosurgeons of New Jersey, we pay close attention to the details of the results of these diagnostic tests. These details help us create the right treatment plan for each of our patients, which is of the utmost importance to us.

Treatment Options for a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

The main goal of any treatment for a subarachnoid hemorrhage is to stop the bleeding in the brain right away. This is often done through surgery, followed by medication to relieve pain, prevent seizures and regulate your blood pressure.

One of the most common surgical treatments is clipping, in which the doctor first performs a craniotomy to create an opening in the skull to find the aneurysm. He or she will then place a small clip on the aneurysm to seal it off and stop the blood from flowing.

Coiling is another treatment option that we at Neurosurgeons of New Jersey are experienced with. When receiving this treatment, expect a catheter to be placed into an artery, usually in the groin. At that point, the doctor will guide it up through your blood vessels until it reaches the aneurysm, where it will release a coil that will cause the blood to start clotting.

Treatment for a subarachnoid hemorrhage is individualized and depends on your age, overall health and the severity of the condition. You commonly will need to be monitored in a hospital setting. Often patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage spend days to weeks in a hospital following the diagnosis for treatment, close monitoring, pain control, and other medications.

Why Choose Neurosurgeons of New Jersey?

When suffering from a stroke of any kind, it’s of the utmost importance to be in the hands of a doctor or surgeon specialized in the field of Cerebrovascular Medicine. If you or a loved one experiences this unfortunate event and are taken to a hospital, our team will gladly meet you for immediate treatment. As the largest neurological practice in the tri-state area, our surgeons have access to the latest cutting-edge technology and techniques. These factors are what we take pride in and what allows us to offer the patient-focused experience you deserve throughout treatment.

Our Doctors Who Treat Subarachnoid Hemorrhages

Dr. Gaetan Moise


Dr. Dorothea Altschul


Dr. Ahsan Sattar