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Scalp hematomas.jpg
Newborn scalp haematomata
Classification and external resources

A cephalhaematoma (British English) or cephalhematoma (American English) is a hemorrhage of blood between the skull and the periosteum of any age human, including a newborn baby secondary to rupture of blood vessels crossing the periosteum. Because the swelling is subperiosteal, its boundaries are limited by the individual bones, in contrast to a caput succedaneum.


The usual causes of a Cephalhematoma are a prolonged second stage of labor or instrumental delivery, particularly forceps delivery. Ventouse application does not increase the incidence of cephalhematoma.


Swelling appears after 2-3 days after birth

If severe the child may develop jaundice, anemia or hypotension. In some cases it may be an indication of a linear skull fracture or be at risk of an infection leading to osteomyelitis or meningitis.

The swelling of a cephalhematoma takes weeks to resolve as the blood clot is slowly absorbed from the periphery towards the centre. In time the swelling hardens (calcification) leaving a relatively softer centre so that it appears as a 'depressed fracture'.

Cephalhematoma should be distinguished from another scalp bleeding called subgaleal hemorrhage (also called subaponeurotic hemorrhage), which is blood between the scalp and skull bone (above the periosteum) and is more extensive. It is more prone to complications, especially anemia and bruising.


No laboratory studies usually are necessary, though serum bilirubin level can be used.[1] Vitamin C deficiency has been reported to possibly be associated with development of Cephalhematomas. Skull x-ray or CT scanning is used if neurological symptoms appear. Usual management is mainly observation. Phototherapy may be necessary if blood accumulation is significant leading to jaundice. Rarely anaemia can develop needing blood transfusion. Do not aspirate to remove accumulated blood because of the risk of infection and abscess formation. The presence of a bleeding disorder should be considered but is rare. Skull radiography or CT scanning is also used if concomitant depressed skull fracture is a possibility. It may take weeks and months to resolve and disappear completely.

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