What is an intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH)?
This is bleeding inside or around the ventricles which are the fluid compartments of the brain
What causes intraventricular haemorrhage?
There are a number of causes of IVH including
- Aneurysms or vascular malformations of the blood vessels in the brain
- Other vascular malformations close to the ventricles of the brain
- There are other more rare causes or sometimes no cause is found after extensive investigations
- Sometimes no cause is found
Diagnosing a intraventricular haemorrhage:
This is usually made by your history and head scan (CT scan).
If the tests appear positive, you will be transferred to the Walton Centre for further investigation.
You will be given regular pain killers and medication to help prevent sickness. Laxatives will also be offered as the pain killers can cause constipation.
You are usually required to stay hydrated: This is either by drinking or by a “drip” into the vein. It is important your urine output is measured every time you go to the toilet. Plenty of fluids help keep a good blood flow to the brain.
If it is thought that the cause of the bleed in from an aneurysm you may be required to take a 21 day course of tablets called Nimodipine. These have to be taken every 4 hours and help prevent complications due to the haemorrhage.
Investigations to find a cause:
- You will undergo a brain scan after injection with contrast which shows the blood vessels within the brain. This is called a CTA (Computerised Tomography Angiogram)
- If no cause is found and after the doctors review your case you may require a more formal angiogram called a DSA (Digital Subtraction Angiogram). This is a test which involves the injection of dye through a catheter (tube) inserted into an artery in the groin which is then passed up to the brain through major blood vessels and a series of x-ray pictures are taken. This shows very clear pictures of the blood vessels within the brain. You may be given provisional results immediately but formal results are given once these pictures are reviewed in depth by your medical team. There is a separate information leaflet regarding the angiogram which you should get when you sign consent.
- If a cause is found then your team will discuss ongoing management. The type of treatment will be decided depending on what is found and varies according to the cause. If a cause is found; this will be discussed with you and there are separate information leaflets to address the various causes.
No vascular Abnormality Found:
If no cause is found, your case will be reviewed by a panel of experts called the multidisciplinary team.
They may advise delayed investigations for when the blood has reabsorbed which can take some time.
- When no cause is found, no treatment will be required other than to support through illness by managing symptoms and lifestyle factors such as blood pressure control.
Whether a cause is found or not you will still need to recover from the bleed itself.
In certain cases further tests are necessary. These are specific to each individual case. They may include further tests such as an MRI scan either whilst you are in hospital or when you go home
It may be decided you need a delayed angiogram or an MR scan of your brain as an inpatient or after you go home.
External Ventricular Drain:
An external ventricular drain (EVD) may be needed. This is a temporary thin plastic tube which is inserted to drain the fluid within the brain (cerebro-spinal fluid). This is necessary if there is a blockage to the drainage of the fluid because of the position of the bleed or to keep pressure in the brain down.
If you drive, you cannot drive for 6 months if you have had an EVD.
In some cases a permanent diversion tube is needed called a shunt
This is an enclosed tube which drains the brain fluid ( cerebro spinal fluid) from the brain to the abdomen where it is reabsorbed into the blood stream. It is completely enclosed within the body and sterile. They usually stay in for life. There is a separate information leaflet about shunts available and you will be supported by the hydrocephalus nurse specialist’s when you go home if you have one.
Once it is decided that no further investigation is needed as an inpatient and your medical team are happy that you are recovering you will be allowed home.
You may need further investigations as an outpatient. The tests you will need should be discussed with you before you go home.
It is advised that you get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked by your GP after going home. Your blood pressure should be monitored regularly and kept under control within normal guidelines that your GP will be aware of (NICE guidance).
Hypertension (blood pressure) medication:
You may go home on medication to control your blood pressure> if this is the case, you should make an appointment with your GP when you get home to have your blood pressure monitored and the medication adjusted if needed.
You may go home with pain killers. You should take these regularly to begin with if you need them. They should be cut down as soon as tolerated as taking them for too long may make headaches worse not better!
Certain types of pain killers can cause constipation and so laxatives are usually given to you. Eating a diet that is high in natural fruit and fibre helps too.
If medication side effects occur, seek medical advice.
You will benefit from a regular routine in the early days of your recovery; This means keeping hydrated: going to bed and getting up at the same time and not missing meals as well as pacing and some outdoors exercise such as walking.
Your recovery will also benefit from getting as much help as you can in the early days although you should aim to be gradually more independent as you will lose confidence
Limit visits to a about an hour if you are feeling tired but still take time to enjoy your family and friends as these will be a big support for you.
Recovery is dependent on how you feel.
You will need to pace yourself for the first month or more after going home because of tiredness and headaches. Save your energy for the things you have to do and those you want to do.
Looking after yourself in the early days of recovery is beneficial to your wellbeing in the long term.
Feelings of anger, frustration and sadness are not uncommon following a brain haemorrhage. This may be due to the condition but could just as well be due to the sudden life changing event and usually passes with time and support. If you are affected, you should talk to your GP as you may benefit from being referred for talk therapy or a psychologist to help you through this stage of recovery.
You will probably need rest once you get home particularly if you are having a lot of visitors or your house is very busy. Even simple tasks such as a walk to the local shop may leave you feeling exhausted. This will usually improve with time although doesn’t always completely go away. You will know if you have done too much as you will be exhausted and may experience more headaches. This often happens early evening or the next day and means you have to take a rest!
You may benefit from pacing your activity for the first 4 weeks following going home. Take some gentle exercise. Build up activity as you feel able to and try to go outside for regular walks if you are able; otherwise you may lose your confidence and fitness. Aim to build up to half hour walks 5 days a week. You will probably need to take a rest each afternoon in the first few weeks of recovery.
Some people experience unusual or strange sensations in their head following a brain haemorrhage. These are common symptoms and we are not sure why they occur. Do not worry about them as they should ease with time.
Sensitivity to noise
This is not uncommon following a brain haemorrhage. Everyday noise such as television or background conversations can be just as difficult to cope with as loud noises. This usually settles down with time as you recover.
Headaches are common after any brain bleed and usually they usually ease with time. They may, however, persist. Headaches can be triggered by dehydration, stress, illness, too much or too little sleep and missing meals. Prolonged or regular use of analgesia (paracetamol, ibuprofen, codeine, morphine etc.) may also worsen or prolong headaches so should be used sparingly and stopped if no longer required. Drinking 2 to 3 litres of water per day, regular meals, ensuring a good sleep pattern and in some instances avoidance of certain triggers (caffeine, alcohol, cheese etc.) can help reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. There are also some non-invasive treatment options such as menthol sticks to rub on the forehead which may help. Drinking more water and using pain relief at the start of a headache may also help. If headaches persist and are troublesome despite this, you may need specialist management.
If your headaches persist or get worse, seek advice from your GP.
Fear of re-bleed
This is a very common fear for all patients, particularly if no cause was found. The chance of another bleed is extremely rare and is usually no higher than everyone else in the general population.
It is important to learning a coping strategy as this fear may prevent your recovery progressing.
In the unlikely event that you get the same symptoms as you did when you had a brain haemorrhage you need to go to your local accident and emergency department.
Family and friends
Enlist the support of your family and friends whilst you recover. They will be a great help with shopping, transport and support and will be the biggest influence in your successful recovery.
It is advised to have someone stay with you for the first week or so after going home.
The “Brain Haemorrhage Support group” affiliated to the Walton Centre also offer emotional support and practical (not medical) advice from personal experience (details in the back).
You should not drive following brain haemorrhage until you have recovered and received the go ahead from the DVLA.
This is because driving involves many different cognitive and physical skills as well as multi-tasking, decision making and problem solving.
DVLA guidance changes all the time and so please check the advice available on the direct .gov website
You cannot drive if you have had an EVD or shunt insertion for at least 6 months and must inform DVLA
You cannot drive if you have new visual problems, cognitive problems or stroke like symptoms.
You cannot drive if you have had a seizure (or fit) as a result of the subarachnoid haemorrhage (this is likely to be a year)
Driving restrictions are enforced by the DVLA and each case has to be approved individually. You must speak to your medical team or nurse to clarify driving restrictions
Returning to work
You can return to work as soon as you feel able from about 6 weeks following your brain haemorrhage. It will not make you ill to return sooner if you recover sooner and want to or have to for financial reasons.
Most people, however, need about 3 months to recover. (Occasionally longer if there have been significant problems)
You should go back to work on a phased return. This means you build up your working days and hours according to how you are feeling. A phased return is often graduated over 4 weeks or longer and your employer has an obligation to adhere to it.
Brain Charity will help you if you are having problems with returning to work. The number is printed at the back of the booklet.
Will I be entitled to any benefits?
You may be entitled to sick pay from your employer, or you may be able to claim benefits appropriate to your specific situation. You should contact an agency such as Citizens Advice Bureau or Brain Charity to discuss individual circumstances and what you are entitled to.
If you are taking Nimodipine, do not drink alcohol until the 21 day course is completed and you have reduced the number of pain killers you take. However, most people find they are not able to tolerate large amounts of alcohol.
The government suggests no more than 14 units a week. Details of an information website on alcohol awareness is printed at the back of this booklet
It is advisable that you give up smoking completely. A free help line number is printed at the end of this booklet.
You can resume sexual activity as soon as you feel able.
Starting a family
You can start a family as soon as you have concluded investigation and have results that all is well. You will benefit from taking a few months to recover your physical fitness before planning a family. You will not normally be prevented from a normal delivery but this will depend on your obstetrician.
Sport and swimming
Exercise is encouraged as it improves stamina and wellbeing. Most sports can be resumed once you feel able. However, you should build up your fitness slowly as soon as you feel able. It is advisable to go swimming with somebody during the first year following your brain haemorrhage.
Extreme exercise should be avoided until all delayed investigations are complete and results have been given.
Dental treatment is safe after SAH. Your dentist may need to seek advice from your consultant or GP if you are taking aspirin.
If you have had a intraventricular with no vascular abnormality found, you should be able to fly as soon as you feel able.
If you have more specific questions please ask your neurovascular nurse specialists, medical team or ward nurses
Information for self help
- Brain Haemorrhage Support Group offers practical advice and emotional support for all patients and their families/friends that have had a subarachnoid haemorrhage. A diary is available from them for you to watch your progress.
- Brain Charity– Information and Support for people with neurological Conditions (Leaflet available at the helpdesk on the ground floor).
- Information is available for all patients who have had shunts inserted as a result of brain haemorrhage. (Through your ward staff, neurovascular nurse specialist, hydrocephalus nurse specialist.)
- Information is available for all patients who have epilepsy as a result of brain haemorrhage. (Through your ward staff, neurovascular nurse specialist, epilepsy nurse specialist.)
- Access to Work: https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work . This is a government based web site that will advise you on how you can be supported when returning to work
Walton Centre Contact Details
For any emergency see your G.P or your go to your local
Accident and Emergency Department
Patient Experience Team provides a PALS service. 0151 556 6300
For information regarding appointments or DVLA contact your
Neurovascular Nurse Specialists: 0151 556 3325
Or through hospital switch.
(Non-urgent enquiries – calls may not be answered the same day)
Walton Centre switchboard - 0151 525 3611
Useful Contact details
NHS 111: 111
Telephone advice if you need urgent medical help fast but it is not a 999 emergency (or you do not have a GP)
Website: http://www.nhs.uk and search ‘emergency and urgent care’
D.V.L.A. Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority,
Drivers Medical Group, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BN.
Medical Enquiries: 0300 790 6806
Or you can email via https://www.gov.uk/subarachnoid-haemorrhage-and-driving
Brain Haemorrhage Support Group affiliated to Walton centre:
Facebook or via Brain Charity
The Brain Charity: 0151 298 2999. www.thebraincharity.org.uk
Working Life Service at The Brain Charity: 0151 298 3288
Department of Work and Pensions: 0345 606 0265
Advice regarding benefits or money problems after subarachnoid haemorrhage can be gained from the Brain Charity who have a stall in the outpatient department of the Walton Centre
NHS Free smoking helpline: 0300 123 1044
NHS Alcohol Helpline: 0300 123 1110
Advice on Alcohol: www.drinkaware.co.uk
- Last Updated:01 October 2021
- Review Date:01 October 2023
- Author:Cathy Stoneley
What is an intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH)? This is bleeding inside or around the ventricles which are the fluid compartments of the brain