A basal ganglia hemorrhage is bleeding from blood vessels in an area of the brain responsible for body movements, sensation, speech, and personality. Most often, an artery in the basal ganglia bursts after being damaged due to the effects of high blood pressure, and it is often referred to as a stroke. The basal ganglia is the part of the brain most frequently affected by hemorrhages, which cause blood to accumulate inside the brain, compressing and damaging the tissue.
While the most common cause of bleeding into the basal ganglia is high blood pressure, other possibilities include the rupture of an aneurysm, or weak spot, in a blood vessel wall, and the bursting of an abnormal mass of arteries and veins joined together, known as an arteriovenous malformation. Injuries, tumors, infections, and blood abnormalities can also cause bleeding in the brain. Older people are at greater risk of experiencing this problem, and the risk doubles every ten years from the age of 55.
Initial symptoms of a basal ganglia hemorrhage could involve a loss of consciousness, headaches, nausea and vomiting, or seizures. The sufferer may experience a loss of sensation and movement in certain parts of the body, eye movements can be affected, and part of the field of vision could disappear. A person might have difficulty speaking or may speak freely using the wrong words. Sometimes, the individual might find it hard to understand what is being said by others.
A hemorrhage in the basal ganglia can lead to personality changes, as well as depression, loss of interest in life, and a lack of motivation. Difficulty in understanding situations can lead to anxiety or frustration. People may become emotional for no apparent reason or in response to things that would not have affected them before.
Treating a basal ganglia hemorrhage involves supporting the patient while the event is occurring. Unconscious patients may require artificial ventilation to help them breathe. Some types of hemorrhage may be managed using surgery to remove the accumulated blood from the brain, but when high blood pressure has caused a basal ganglia bleed, surgical treatment is not usually carried out.
Medication may be given intravenously to help lower blood pressure, reduce the pressure of fluid in the brain, and prevent seizures. Drugs may also be used to reduce headaches and fever and restore normal blood clotting. The outlook following a hemorrhage in this area depends on the size and location of the bleed, but controlling high blood pressure can help prevent some strokes from occurring.